Saturday, November 24, 2012

on thankfulness

I know i'm a stash late on this one.  You'll enjoy it anyway, i hope.

On thankfulness, i found the most beautiful example in the book i keep telling you that you all should read:  The Hiding Place, by Corrie Ten Boom.

Here's the scene:

Corrie and Betsie, spinster sisters, in their mid-fifties, find themselves living in a Nazi work camp/concentration camp in Germany.

This particular facility is a warehouse type room, packed with women of all ages and nationalities, packed so tightly that their sleeping accommodations are described kind of like stacked benches, almost shelves, where women have to sleep right next to each other in order to fit.  On top of the crowded accommodations, and the lack of sanitation, the women quickly discover that this room is infested badly with fleas, so much so that it is necessary for the women to cut off their traditionally long hair.

It occurs to Betsie, at some point, while asking the Lord how they are to endure this situation, that the Bible has given them the tools that they need.  She refers to I Thessalonians 5:18, wherein Paul instructions to "give thanks" "in everything."  Betsie and Corrie begin to think of things to give God thanks for, even in their dire and uncertain circumstances.  They thank God for each other's company, for their smuggled New Testament,   for various things that seem to become a bit of a stretch to our own minds in terms of thankfulness.  Then Betsie suggests they thank God for the fleas.  Thanking God for a building to live in that is invested with fleas seems awfully far fetched to Corrie, and she is sure that Betsie must be interpreting scripture incorrectly here.

Fast forward:  as time passes, the women begin to quietly share readings of the scriptures with their multitudinous roommates.  This becomes a daily practice, like a scheduled Bible study.  Then, as they notice that no one seems to notice their noise level, the Bible studies become almost full on services.  There is teaching and encouragement and translations of the scriptures and the messages passed along verbally through the different languages of women living in this flea infested building.  The women in this building, to their surprise, are experiencing a great deal of freedom (considering that they are prisoners of Nazi concentration camp).  They don't know the reason, but they take advantage of it and are thankful that they have the freedom to encourage one another with the word of God, which has become a wonderful lifeline of peace in their horrible situation.

I don't remember now exactly how they gain the knowledge.  But at some point, fast forward some more, Corrie learns something very interesting.  The reason that these women were given so much freedom in their activities in the evenings is because none of the guards wants to look in on them.  Why?  The fleas.  A normal, unincarcerated, regularly showered woman, does not want to step her feet in a flea infested building. And therefore, no guard walked in that building.  And no one cared if they prayed or read the Bible or had a service, or whathaveyou.  Because of the fleas.

I know that the Thanksgiving Holiday is now passed.  And in our culture, we are rushed headlong into the Christmas shopping season, as if our lives depended on spending enormous amounts of money and other ridiculous notions that we often don't take much time to think about.

But thankfulness is important every day.  On the days of plenty (which most Americans are experiencing even when our level of plenty appears small in comparison to others' levels of plenty), and on the days of want.

How do we get through hard times?  We remember to be thankful in all circumstances, in all things, even for all things.

I'm thinking that this is a good tip for getting through the holiday season as well.  :)  I think everyone has times, especially this time of year, when our attitudes get turned in the wrong direction, and if we look at ourselves through the light of God's word, we feel pretty silly.  I think thankfulness is the cure.  It's closely linked to love, i believe.  Responses based on thankfulness and actions made in love, cure a world of bad attitudes.  In the holiday season and any other time too.

1 comment:

  1. Great reminder, Beth! That is my favorite book, and each time I read it I get something new out if it. It's been a few years though....time to read it again! Hope you had a happy Thanksgiving. :-)

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