As a follow up to the Giving Thanks series, this is an article I received from a Koinonia House eNews. This is perfect example of thanking God for even what seems to be circumstances that are not good. As you read try to think the frustration of these women if they prayed for those fleas to leave and wondering why God was not answering the request.
Thank You For The Fleas
from the November 24, 2009 eNews issue
“In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God
in Christ Jesus concerning you.” – 1 Thess 5:18
It’s simple to thank God when He does miracles and answers prayers just the way we want them answered. It’s also pretty easy to thank Him when we can look around and see many blessings in our lives. When our situation seems awful, though, and we’re struggling through tragedy or just plain hard times, it can seem hard to believe that God is really there taking care of things; it can be hard to say, “I know You love me. Thank you for what You are doing even now.”
Jobless rates in 29 US states rose last month, with Michigan suffering the worst rate at 15.1 percent and Nevada and Rhode Island close behind at 13 and 12.9 percent respectively. In California alone, payrolls have dropped by 687,700 workers in just the past year. It’s a very difficult time for a lot of people across America and around the world, and giving thanks to God may be the last thing in the minds of those who don’t know how they’re going to pay their electric bill or put gas in the car.
Yet, it’s good to know that the economy does not have God worried. His arms are not tied. The One who looks after the sparrows is fully capable of looking after each one of us as well, and even the rotten things that happen in our lives are in His hands. Jesus says, in Luke 12:7, “But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.”
Jesus never promised us gardens of roses or even daisies in this life. He did promise he would never leave or forsake us (Heb 13:5).
Thank God For The Fleas:
Corrie and her sister Betsie had been imprisoned by the Nazis for hiding Jews behind the wall of their Holland home, and Nazi prison conditions pretty well unbearable.
“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. As we celebrate Thanksgiving Day, let’s thank God for His constant care and provision, and for His hidden blessings that come in ways we can easily overlook.
- Additional Resource: Prayer Quotes by Corrie ten Boom
Kevin Shorter is the founder of this prayer-coach site and have served for several years in ministry and churches teaching on a variety of Biblical topics. Go to the contact page to request him to speak at your conferences and seminars.