Radical Gratitude, Fleas, And Nazis

October 8, 2018
by Matthew Ruttan

During World War II, Corrie ten Boom's family sheltered many Jews who were fleeing the Nazis.

The Nazi police seized Corrie, her sister Betsie, and their father. They ended up in a concentration camp, all the while holding firmly to the promises of God.

One day, they moved into Barracks 28. The sewers were backed up. The mattresses were soaked with urine. And when they went to bed, they got bitten because the beds were swarming with fleas.

In a near panic, she and her sister wondered what to do. But then, Betsie realized that God had given them the answer that very morning while reading 1 Thessalonians 5:18 – "Give thanks in all circumstances." (NIV)

So, they made a list. They were thankful that they hadn't been separated, that their Bibles weren't seized, and that they were crammed in with so many women that they could minister to and encourage.

Then, Betsie suggested that they even be thankful for the fleas! After all, the verse said to give thanks in all circumstances — not just nice ones. Corrie wasn't sure, but she did it anyway.

As time when on, they realized that they had a lot of freedom in Barracks 28. So, they started a worship service. Then another. People were hearing the eternal message and hope of Jesus — people who hadn't heard it before. Women were encouraged and helped in the midst of this hellish experience.

Then one day, they discovered why they had such incredible freedoms. It was because of the fleas! The guards didn't want to walk into those rancid conditions, so they kept their distance.

Upon learning this, Corrie remembered their prayer of thanksgiving in all circumstances — even flea infestation.

What about us? Are we able to give thanks in all circumstances? Let's push ourselves to do so. When we make the effort, God reminds us that no matter what we're dealing with, He's always loving us, He's always providing for us, and He's also guiding us.

It's human to be thankful when things are good. It's discipleship to be thankful when times are tough.

Prayer: Lord, when we are in difficult circumstances, remind us to give thanks, for we never know what You have planned for us. Amen.

About the author:

Matthew Ruttan <matthew@matthewruttan.com>
Barrie, Ontario, Canada

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Very good. Please write again.


    Powerful reminder, thank you and God bless!


    Such a great story, Matthew. Good to hear it once again.


    Yes happy thanksgiving. Thank you Matthew… a very strong and positive message.


    Thanks Matthew for reminding us of Corrie and all the lessons they learned. Blessings.


    Matthew
    Thanks so much for your Thanksgiving reflection.


    Excellent devotional today. Are we really thankful in all circumstances, or do we complain at the slightest thing?
    (Ontario)


    Thank you for this lesson through the story of Corrie ten Boom and her sister’s story, to be thankful for ALL things, Matthew. I read her story years ago, and your bringing it back to me, emphasizes the ALL of it.


    I enjoyed your devotional. Am in Florida on vacation so am trying to be thankful for the hurricane. We are not in direct path and am thankful. Am with my family and thankful for that too. Also thankful for your words today. God bless.


    Thank you, Matthew!
    I with my boyfriend at his family Thanksgiving. We are leaving today thankfully. I am convinced their cat has fleas as of last night. I am bitten and not impressed because I am really allergic.
    (ON)


    Good Afternoon
    Just finished the reading for today, I feel it was for sure, the best for Thanksgiving day. I read Corrie ten Booms’ “The Hiding Place”, also read “God’s Smuggler”. These were both a testament to their faith in our Lord. It’s time to re-read these books, thanks for today.


    Matthew,
    Thank you for a well-written devotional.
    I was privileged to hear Corrie speak in Canada some years ago so I knew most of what you wrote. Nevertheless, you presented it in a style that kept my attention and challenged me personally.
    Well done! Keep it up.


    Greetings Matthew,
    Thanks for your mindful devotional today. Yes, we need to be ever mindful in giving thanks to our Lord for all He does for us and that He is ever watching over us. Even when we don’t get exactly what we pray for we have to be thankful that the Lord’s will is the right decision and in the long run is best for us.
    Blessings,
    (B.C.)


    Hi Matthew,
    Today’s devotional was excellent. Thanks so much!
    I volunteer as a chaplain at a corrections facility.
    I would like to photocopy it and perhaps any others you would write to give them to the guys. Knowing the clientele, I would delete your name.
    God bless you.


    Thank you, Matthew, for another very good, inspiring devotional and I hope you and your family had a Happy Thanksgiving Day!


    Your daily devotion of give thanks was very good. Our minister’s children story was about giving thanks for fleas.

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