At Thanksgiving I often think of Corrie Ten Boom and her fleas.
If you don’t know the reference, Corrie and her sister Betsie were Christians who were thrown into a Nazi concentration camp and placed in a barracks infested with fleas. Straightaway Betsie said that the only way to respond to such a place was with Scripture and reminded Corrie of the Bible passage they had read that morning from 1st Thessalonians 5, especially verses 16–18.
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.1 Thess 5:16–18
So Betsie led Corrie in prayer, giving thanks that at least they were together, that they had a Bible with them, and then Betsie began to give thanks for the fleas which had bitten their legs. Corrie thought that was silly and said, “Betsie, there’s no way even God could make me grateful for a flea.” But Betsie insisted.
Later they learned that the fleas which afflicted them also protected them. The guards wouldn’t enter the barracks because they didn’t want to get fleas. Corrie realized that Betsie had been right to be thankful for the fleas — the fleas prevented assaults by the guards and the fleas also gave them a measure of privacy allowing them to lead a Bible study in a concentration camp.
This story and many others are told in Corrie Ten Boom’s book The Hiding Place and I highly recommend it to you (the story of the fleas unfolds from pages 218–231 in the edition I consulted to get Corrie’s quote right).
Even in challenging situations there are occasions for gratitude. I don’t know all you’re going through right now (I barely know all I’m going through right now!) , but I’m sure there’s at least one part of your life that you wish was different than it is. Whatever the hardship, I pray it passes quickly. I also pray that while it lasts God opens your heart to experience genuine gratitude in the midst of it.
May you have a delightful Thanksgiving — and remember the fleas!