Every once in a while, I read an autobiography that just resounds with me. One of the best has to be “The Hiding Place”, the life story of Corrie Ten Boom. When I finally got around to reading it, I knew I should have done so a long time ago.
Corrie Ten Boom was a Dutch Christian who, with her family, helped the Jews escape the Nazi Holocast during World War II. To avoid detection, they build a secret room in the wall of Corrie’s bedroom where they would hide during raids. They were eventually found out by an informant and arrested. They were taken to a concentration camp, an experience that I can only describe as hell on earth.
“Ravensbruck was one of the worst concentration camps in Germany. The stench of burning flesh from those that were murdered without warning was a constant stare into the face of death. The food was one half pound of bread and one half liter of soup per day. The work was so hard that the women had swollen legs and were losing circulation in no time.”
Yet despite the horror, Corrie and her sister Betsie held on with an unwavering faith. I can’t imagine the incredible character and courage it took not only to withstand this, but to persevere with so much grace. There’s story after story of God’s presence within one of the darkest times in history, but one of my favorites has to do with fleas in their barracks. Here’s an excerpt:
Many days after this prayer was forgotten, Corrie and Betsie began to have Bible study and prayer meetings in the barracks. They were timid at first, but as night after night went by and no guard ever set foot into their quarters, they grew bolder. Although the other barracks were constantly survailled, theirs were never supervised. Corrie was amazed, but perplexed.
One evening, Betsie excitedly pulled her aside. Turns out she overheard one of the guards telling another why she never stepped through the door to their room.
“It’s because of the fleas! That’s what she said, “That place is crawling with fleas!”
The guard didn’t want anything to do with them or their area, just to avoid those little bugs.
Corrie concludes, “My mind rushed back to our first hour in this place. I remember Betsie’s bowed head, remembered her thanks to God for creatures I could see no use for .”
God commands all of nature, and they can’t help but obey. This is clearly found in the creation story, as each element of the earth and everything in it was formed when He said “Let there be” (Genesis 1)
Throughout the Bible, there are great examples of animals acting at God’s bidding:
– He prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah, redirecting him to Ninevah to bring revival to this city of over 600,000 people. (Jonah 1:17)
– He arranged all animals in pairs to enter Noah’s Ark, preserving them throughout the Great Flood. (Gen. 7:8-10)
– He even spoke through a donkey, judging Balaam to only speak what God told him to speak. (Numbers 22:28-35)
In the case of the fleas, who would have ever thought that when He made the command “Go forth and multiply”, (as He must have) to all those tiny bugs that He was using them to allow the prisoners the freedom to read His word without persecution or fear? It all made sense when they discovered this mystery.
To be honest, I wish we could always see the meanings behind God’s working this clearly. God pulled back the screen just a little and allowed Corrie and all the other women to see the purpose… and they were thankful to know what He had in mind.
To be more honest, I don’t have a tenth of the faith these remarkable women had, let alone anything that compares to the trials they’ve had. Yet I never thank God for the “fleas” in my life, those circumstances or annoyances of which I see no good purpose either.
Now, if I could just witness His purpose for cockroaches!
How about you? Have you ever wondered why God has allowed the “fleas” in your life?