Sunday, July 06, 2008

Give Thanks in ALL Circumstances

My Bible study homework this past week has caused me to revisit one of the most powerful books I've ever read... The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom. Corrie, with her family, worked to hide and save many Jewish people from the Nazis during WWII. Unfortunately, the Ten Booms were eventually caught and sent to concentration camps. Corrie ended up in the same camps as her sister, and at one point, they were transferred to new barracks. They found their new quarters to be a disgusting pit of filth.... with backed up plumbing, soiled and rancid bedding, and stacked platforms that would serve as their beds for the many months to come. As the sisters attempted to settle in, they discovered through the ensuing bites, that the place was also infested with a multitude of fleas. "How can we live in such a place!" Corrie cried out.... But, her sister prayed and asked God, "Show us. Show us how."

Betsie then remembered a Bible passage they had been reading earlier in the day. "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!"

So, they began to thank God for many things that were true blessings... that they had a Bible, that they were together, and so on. Eventually, they also thanked God for the fleas, because Betsie insisted that there must be a good reason that God was allowing the fleas. But Corrie responded with, "There is no way even God can make me grateful for a flea."

"Give thanks in all circumstances," Betsie reminded her. "It doesn't say in pleasant circumstances."

Corrie and Betsie began using their smuggled Bible to lead Bible reading in a large room within their barracks. They were perplexed as to why there was rigid surveillance everywhere else in the prison camp, but they had very little supervision in the barracks. This gave them the freedom to openly lead large groups of women in Bible readings night after night.

Eventually, there was an incident when a guard should've entered their barracks but refused to do so because of the fleas. Betsie and Corrie suddenly realized why they'd had so much freedom to lead big Bible studies in that big room... it was the fleas. The fleas were the reason they were able to openly share God's Word night after night!

I thought of this story as I studied Psalm 124 in last week's Stepping Up homework. Beth Moore wrote these insightful words: "... in our humanity we tend to determine whether God is against us, for us, or tolerating us based on how He appears to act in our circumstances. In other words, our litmus test for whether we think God is really for us is circumstantial evidence." The problem with that is..... you and me.... we don't have a clue as to what is best for us. We cannot imagine how God might use the most despairing of circumstances for our good. We lack the imagination, the insight, the depth, to even come close to figuring it all out. If I may quote Beth again... "God will risk being misunderstood". He knows the glory of the future will be worth the difficulties of the present. He wants us to have crowns to throw at His feet!!

I believe, this is yet another layer to the trust lessons God is teaching me... To be thankful in all things. It is easy to feel thankful when you have circumstantial evidence that God is working in your favor. It is easy to trust when good things are happening. But, sometimes you don't have that kind of evidence... and sometimes you just have to trust that in spite of everything, God is at work!

"Dear LORD, show me how to trust You in this.
Show me how to believe you in this.
Show me how to be thankful in this."

Jesus said... "You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand."
John 13:7


LynnSC said...

What an awesome story!! But it is so true.

We should give thanks in ALL circumstances. And, I know as well as you do... sometimes that is hard. God has shown Himself to be so faithful to us through this financial storm. Not the outcome that I would have wanted... but the outcome that He can use for His glory if we let Him. I will choose to thank Him for this too.

I am so glad that you were able to work out going to the Bible study... you have passed on such treasures to me.

You should try the book... so good!

Gabby said...

I just came over to see your blog after a comment you left on LPM blog. I have got to tell you that YESTERDAY my prayer sister and I started Stepping Up. It was so awesome. I just had written about it. I was just so blessed to read your insights, too! Press on sister!