Dear thankful friends, for which I am deeply thankful,
I am definitely thankful for the home my husband and I live in. For the paychecks that arrive with regularity. I am thankful for the food we'll be sharing on Thanksgiving, for the innumerable miracles the Lord has used to provide for us, for the computer we use to check our e-mail and Facebook, for the family that loves us from far away and sends encouraging cards and messages. I am for sure thankful for warm sunlight and long white drapes on the windows, for a country where electricity and roads are a given and churches that welcome and invite newcomers.
But there's other stuff that doesn't leap out at me to be thankful for. Like uncomfortable questions about the future. Like missing family and hearth. Living without furniture or my favorite spatula and all the comforts of home that we worked so hard to earn, that are still in boxes in storage back home. Injuries and disruptions and upsets to our plans that seem confusing and nonsensical. Why would I be thankful for all of that.
But we who claim to be Christ-followers are supposed to be thankful people. Well, I can still be thankful, because I have plenty of stuff to be thankful for, but I don't have to be thankful for that other stuff, right? I can still be a good, thankful person because I am thanking God for lots of things ... I'll just leave some things in my life off the list. That's okay, right?
Imprisoned by the Nazis, Corrie could find it in her heart to be thankful for a few things. But her sister Betsie believed the Scriptures required thankfulness for everything.
"Fleas!" I cried. "Betsie, the place is swarming with them! ... Here! And here another one!" I wailed. "Betsie, how can we live in such a place!""Show us. Show us how." It was said so matter of factly it took me a second to realize she was praying. More and more the distinction between prayer and the rest of life seemed to be vanishing for Betsie.
"Corrie!" she said excitedly. "He's given us the answer! Before we asked, as He always does! In the Bible this morning. Where was it? Read that part again!" ... In the feeble light I turned the pages. "Here it is: 'Comfort the frightened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. See that none of you repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to all...'" It seemed written expressly to Ravensbruck.
"Go on," said Betsie. "That wasn't all."
"Oh yes:...'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. ... "Yes," said Betsie, "thank You for the very crowding here. Since we're packed so close, that many more will hear!" She looked at me expectantly. "Corrie!" she prodded.
"Oh, all right. Thank You for the jammed, crammed, stuffed, packed suffocating crowds."
"Thank You," Betsie went on serenely, "for the fleas and for--"
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...
One evening I got back to the barracks late from a wood-gathering foray outside the walls. A light snow lay on the ground and it was hard to find the sticks and twigs with which a small stove was kept going in each room. Betsie was waiting for me, as always, so that we could wait through the food line together. Her eyes were twinkling.
"You're looking extraordinarily pleased with yourself," I told her.
"You know, we've never understood why we had so much freedom in the big room," she said. "Well--I've found out." That afternoon, she said, there'd been confusion in her knitting group about sock sizes and they'd asked the supervisor to come and settle it. "But she wouldn't. She wouldn't step through the door and neither would the guards. And you know why?" Betsie could not keep the triumph from her voice: "Because of the fleas! That's what she said, 'That place is crawling with fleas!'"
Excerpted from The Hiding Place, by Corrie Ten Boom, pp 198
It's not always easy to be thankful for everything. But that is what is required of us.
Riddle me this: what are you thankful for this Thanksgiving?
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