Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. [1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NLT)]
It’s not easy to be thankful for fleas, but Corrie ten Boom was. In her book, The Hiding Place, she tells of her life in the Dutch resistance during World War II. Once arrested, she and her sister were sent to a Nazi concentration camp. Upon arrival in their barracks, her sister insisted on thanking God. Corrie agreed, but balked when she discovered fleas in their bedding. Her sister, however, insisted on a prayer of thanksgiving that even included the fleas and Carrie reluctantly offered her thanks.
The sisters conducted secret Bible studies in their camp quarters, offering strength and comfort to their fellow inmates. Such gatherings were strictly forbidden and the women feared their clandestine meetings would be discovered. The German guards, however, never entered the women’s sleeping room and Corrie often wondered why. She later discovered the reason: the guards were terrified of getting fleas from the prisoners’ mattresses! Upon learning this, Corrie truly was thankful for the fleas in their beds!
Sometimes it is difficult to understand why God may have blessed us with discomfort and what we perceive to be nuisances or worse. We don’t see these as blessings but as afflictions we must bear. Given time we, like Corrie ten Boom, may find these annoyances and trials to be hidden blessings. While we may not understand why our difficulties exist, they do have some unknown purpose.
God has an uncanny way of testing me to make sure that I practice what I preach. In yesterday’s devotion, I wrote of the sad state of our garden. There was, however, one bright spot in our yard: some beautiful scarlet lilies on the side of our house. No weeds were in the flower bed and the blooms were magnificent. I say “were,” because yesterday I realized they had all but disappeared—only a few bare stalks remained. Apparently, the playful bunnies I enjoy watching from our dining room window had their very own dinner table in this little patch of flowers. Since I’ve just written that we must give thanks in all circumstances, I’ll be thankful that I briefly got to enjoy the lovely flowers, that we had extra pots of zebra grass to replace the lost lilies, and that the pesky rabbits I find so entertaining are well-fed. It’s not always that easy to find hidden blessings, but, no matter how difficult, we must remember to thank God for the fleas, bunnies and even thistles in our lives!
Happiness isn’t something that depends on our surroundings. It’s something we make inside ourselves. [Corrie ten Boom]
In every difficult situation is potential value. Believe this then begin looking for it. Change your thoughts and you change your world. [Norman Vincent Peale]