Saturday, March 22, 2014

Thanking God for the fleas in your life.

The story of Corrie Ten Boom as told in The Hiding Place is one that has vastly influenced my continued quest to know and understand that resignation to God's holy will in ALL THINGS is the surest path to happiness, peace, and contentment.

The story is one that will move you to tears.  Corrie and Betsie ten Boom are middle-aged sisters working in their father's watchmaker shop in pre-WWII Holland. Their uneventful lives are disrupted with the coming of the Nazis. Suspected of hiding Jews & caught breaking rationing rules, they are sent to a concentration camp, where their Christian faith keeps them from despair and bitterness. Betsie eventually dies, but Corrie survives, and after the war, must learn to love and forgive her former captors. 

I loved this story so much, but ONE scene in particular spoke to me.  Corrie fought her emotions the whole story.  Betsie was much more resigned to the plan of God.  At one point in the story, Corrie was so understandably distraught over the fleas that ran rampant through the camp.

Taken from source:

"Corrie writes:
"Barracks 8 was in the quarantine compound. Next to us--perhaps as a deliberate warning to newcomers--were located the punishment barracks. From there, all day long and often into the night, came the sounds of hell itself. They were not the sounds of anger, or of any human emotion, but of a cruelty altogether detached: blows landing in regular rhythm, screams keeping pace. We would stand in our ten-deep ranks with our hands trembling at our sides, longing to jam them against our ears, to make the sounds stop.
"It grew harder and harder. Even within these four walls there was too much misery, too much seemingly pointless suffering. Every day something else failed to make sense, something else grew too heavy."
Yet, in the midst of the suffering, the women prisoners around Corrie and Betsie found comfort in the little Bible studies they held in the barracks. Corrie writes they gathered around the Bible "like waifs clustered around a blazing fire…The blacker the night around us grew, the brighter and truer and more beautiful burned the Word of God."

When they were moved to Barracks 28, Corrie was horrified by the fact that their reeking, straw-bed platforms swarmed with fleas. How could they live in such a place?

It was Betsie who discovered God's answer:
"'"Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus." That's it, Corrie! That's His answer. "Give thanks in all circumstances!" That's what we can do. We can start right now to thank God for every single thing about this new barracks!'

"I stared at her; then around me at the dark, foul-aired room…"
They thanked God for the fact they were together. They thanked God they had a Bible. They even thanked God for the horrible crowds of prisoners, that more people would be able to hear God's Word. And then, Betsie thanked God for the fleas.
"The fleas! This was too much. 'Betsie, there's no way even God can make me grateful for a flea.'
"'"Give thanks in all circumstances,"' she quoted. 'It doesn't say, "in pleasant circumstances."  Fleas are part of this place where God has put us.'

"And so we stood between tiers of bunks and gave thanks for fleas. But this time I was sure Betsie was wrong."
It turned out that Betsie was not wrong; the fleas were a nuisance, but a blessing after all. The women were able to have Bible studies in the barracks with a great deal of freedom, never bothered by supervisors coming in and harassing them. They finally discovered that it was the fleas that kept those supervisors out.

Through those fleas, God protected the women from abuse and harassment.  Dozens of desperate women were free to hear the comforting, hope-giving Word of God.  Through those fleas, God protected the women from much worse things and made sure they had their deepest, truest needs met. 

We all have "fleas" in our lives. We all have those things that we can see no use for, things that are obviously horrible, unpleasant, painful things that we want gone. No life is free of "fleas", but if Corrie and Betsie can be our examples, God can use even these nasty insects for our protection and blessing. Let us thank God for His constant care and provision, and for His hidden blessings that come in ways we can easily overlook. "

The thought came to my mind today as we were loading into the car.  The weather was extremely brisk and chilly.  I momentarily pined to live somewhere warm all year.  I envisioned endless dreams of our family happily enjoying each sunny day. No, Lindsay. God allows the dreary days to help you and save you.  The task that is before us is to see what we are currently dealing with  as the very precise thing that is going to help us in long run.  It may come in the form of crummy weather that has lasted way too long in our opinion, illness, money and job difficulties, or 1 million other issues that life presents to us.  I so easily get annoyed at the very thing that God has sent to help my soul.  The fleas saved their lives so why would my "fleas" not save my life. We must look past the apparent and search for the deeper meaning. 

If the fleas had not be present, many women would not have heard the Word of God. 

The Hiding Place is available in film or book.  It is well-worth your time.


  1. i'll be thinking about my 'fleas' as I go to bed tonight. thanks lindsay!

  2. I have been wanting to read that book! I will make sure that I do (and watch the film afterwards)!

  3. I came here because of Rosie (my daughter) at

    The story of Corrie, Betsie, and the fleas has long been one of my favorites, and you tell it beautifully. Thank you!

  4. When I saw the title, I knew what you were going to say- I love that part of her story. I have remembered that since childhood. The imagery sticks with you for life.

  5. Hi! I'm Kate! I'm a first time commenter, long time reader. I think about that story SO frequently, and I read it so long ago. It's amazing how many more people than just the women in the barracks have been blessed by those pesky fleas.

  6. Thank-you for the inspiration! I wish you had been blogging back when you were where I am now. My first daughter was born the same day as your Kapaun (11 months after my wedding) and I am almost 2 months pregnant with our second. I always come here for courage. -Katie

  7. I first heard the story of Corrie when I was in middle school at summer camp. I have loved it ever since. I also love the portion where she is smuggling Bibles into Communist countries. She was just a wonderful woman.

  8. I am here for the first time but your blog looks really beautiful. I love children and all these pics are so sweet.

  9. Just returned from the library with both The Hiding Place and Not I, But Christ! Thanks, Lindsay!

  10. This post hit home for me today. Thank you so much for sharing! I don't comment much because I read your blog on my phone for the most part, but I have been reading you for a couple of years now, and you have always been a favorite. :) God bless and thank you again for sharing this great message!

  11. It has been so long since i read this book that i had forgotten about the flea story. I shared it with my husband last night and we have decided to give thanks for the fleas in our life! God works for the good of those who love him whether we understand it or not!

  12. Thanks for the reminder...I enjoyed the book and wasn't aware there was a film. I love how you make the analogy with the fleas and dreary weather. I live in upstate NY where March and April can be long, raw, grey and damp. I am trying to use this time to do some spring cleaning and am enjoying able to stay indoors and read more than I do when the weather is nice.

  13. Wow! Definitely looking at my "fleas" in a new light today. Thank you!

  14. Have you ever met someone who liked the similar readings that you read? Its amazing to read inspirational quotes or love quotes for her to get better in life.