Sunday, September 18, 2011
Reflections on the "Hiding Place"
I wrote this a couple weeks ago. Some of my thoughts in my journal:
I read 1 Thessalonians before going to bed. Chapter 5 seems so practical.
12 We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, 13 and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. 14 And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. 15 See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies, 21 but test everything; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil.
The next day I continue reading the book “The Hiding Place” which is a story of Corrie Ten Boom. I am toward the end where her sister and her are moved to a new concentration camp. Their conditions got worse from the last concentrations camp. They had smuggled a Bible into their barracks and would read it to the other prisoners. As they got to their new cell it was filled with noxious soiled straw where they were to sleep. Fleas were jumping all over them and biting them. Betsie, Corrie’s sister, asks the Lord right there to show them how they can live in such a way. Before she finished with the prayer, the answer came in the scripture they had read aloud earlier that day which happened to be 1 Thessalonians chapter 5. Here is the dialogue:
“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.
“Such as? I said.
“Such as being assigned here together.”
I bit my lip. “Oh yes, Lord Jesus!”
“Such as what you’re holding in your hands.”
I looked down at the the Bible. “Yes! Thank You, dear Lord, that there was no inspection when we entered here! Thank You for all the women, here in this room, who will meet You in these pages.”
“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 piers of bunks and gave thanks for fleas.
God is continually teaching me to give thanks in all circumstances, not just the ones that seem easy to give thanks. I have read 1 Thess. 5 before but with different struggles in my life I realized how I can loose my joy and begin to focus on the bad when there is so much good around me. A common theme for me while living here (if you haven’t noticed). Just like Corrie I find it hard to give thanks in all circumstances but when I stop and ask God how I can go on dealing with different circumstances......
I can give thanks.
Something else I learned from reading about the life of the Ten Boom’s is being thankful for the opportunity to share the word of God and the gospel. It is really humbling to hear about their situations in the concentration camps and yet it was so important to them to share the word of God to others. They were not worried about themselves and their circumstances, but rather the situation of others around them. This is not always my attitude. Many times I am worried about myself and my comforts, forgetting about the spiritual condition of those around me. My heart yearns, "Empty me Jesus. Empty me of my selfishness, empty me of the comforts I hold on to, empty me of my foolish emotions, empty me of myself. Fill me with your love, your meekness, your compassion, fill me with you!"