I Thessalonians 5:16 Rejoice evermore.
17 Pray without ceasing.
18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
It is the will of God for us to be thankful in every thing in life! That may be a difficult pill for you and I to swallow in the midst of a worldwide pandemic.
It was also difficult to comprehend in a German concentration camp with such horrible human conditions that it is almost indescribable.
You will find the following story in Corrie ten Boom's book, The Hiding Place. It should probably be required reading for all Christians. Yes, it is that good. Try it, you will like it.😁
During World War II the ten Boom family was imprisoned on suspicion of hiding Jews. Most of the family perished in the concentration camps. Sisters Betsie and Corrie were sent together to Ravensbrook north of Berlin. It was a horrible place!
Within their first hour of being herded into the big dorm, overcrowded with hundreds of other women, Corrie discovered to her horror the place was infested with fleas!
"In their barracks, they were shown to a series of massive square platforms, stacked three levels high and placed so close together that people had to walk single-file to pass between them. Rancid straw was scattered over the platforms, which served as communal beds for hundreds of women.
Corrie and Betsie found they could not sit upright on their own platform without hitting their heads on the deck above them. They lay back, struggling against nausea that swept over them from the reeking straw.
Corrie wailed, "Betsie, how can we live in such a place?"
“Show us. Show us how,” Betsie said matter-of-factly. It took Corrie a moment to realize that her sister was praying. “Corrie!” Betsie then exclaimed 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!”
Corrie checked to make sure no guards were nearby, then drew from a pouch a small Bible she had managed to smuggle into the concentration camp. “It was in First Thessalonians,” she said, finding the passage in the feeble light. “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. Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus …’ ” (1 Thessalonians 5:14-18)
“That’s it!” Betsie interrupted. “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 barracks!”
Corrie stared at her incredulously, then around at the dark, foul-smelling room. “Such as?” she inquired.
“Such as being assigned here together.”
Corrie bit her lip. “Oh yes, Lord Jesus!”
“Such as what you’re holding in your hands.”
Corrie looked down at 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,” agreed Betsie. “Thank You for the very crowding here. Since we’re packed so close, that many more will hear!” She looked at her sister expectantly and prodded, “Corrie!”
“Oh, all right. Thank You for the jammed, crammed, stuffed, packed, suffocating crowds.”
“Thank you,” Betsie continued on serenely, “for the fleas and for …”
That was too much for Corrie. She cut in on her sister: “Betsie, there’s no way even God can make me grateful for a flea.”
“Give thanks in all circumstances,” Betsie corrected. “It doesn’t say, ‘in pleasant circumstances.’ Fleas are part of this place where God has put us.” So they stood between the stacks of bunks and gave thanks for fleas, though on that occasion Corrie thought Betsie was surely wrong.
Weeks went by and Corrie and Betsie we able to minister very freely to the women in that large dorm.
“Back at the barracks we formed yet another line–would there never be an end to columns and waits?–to receive our ladle of turnip soup in the center room. Then, as quickly as we could for the press of people, Betsie and I made our way to the rear of the dormitory room where we held our worship “service.”
Around our own platform area there was not enough light to read the Bible, but back here a small light bulb cast a wan yellow circle on the wall, and here an ever larger group of women gathered.
“They were services like no others, these times in Barracks 28.
“At first Betsie and I called these meetings with great timidity. But as night after night went by and no guard ever came near us, we grew bolder. So many now wanted to join us that we held a second service after evening roll call.
There on the Lagerstrasse we were under rigid surveillance, guards in their warm wool capes marching constantly up and down. It was the same in the center room of the barracks: half a dozen guards or camp police always present. Yet in the large dormitory room there was almost no supervision at all. We did not understand it.
“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!’”
“My mind rushed back to our first hour in this place. I remembered Betsie’s bowed head, remembered her thanks to God for creatures I could see no use for.”
Corrie and Betsie were able to freely minister to hundreds and hundreds of women with very little hindrance right in the middle of a Nazi concentration camp. They read the Bible to them. They prayed for them and prayed with them. They ministered to them under the noses of the Nazis.
And the reason for their liberty was fleas! The very thing they despised and we would despise, was the very thing that set them free to worship and to minister!
Fleas in the concentration camps carried Typhus and Typhus was a thing to be feared. It was a deadly disease in those camps and the guards were as susceptible as the prisoners. They feared the fleas and the Typhus so much that they would not go into the barracks infested with fleas.
That fear gave Betsie and Corrie freedom AND it justified Betsie in calling for them to give thanks unto God for everything including fleas!
How is it today in your life? Are there things going on that you have been hesitant to thank God for? It does not make sense does it? Not even God could give you good reason to thank Him for some of these things?
Hang on, Sis. Corrie! You and I are not all knowing like God is! God sees things that we can not see and He knows things that you and I do not know.
Give God thanks. Give God praise. Give God glory. It may be, that later, down the road, He may reveal more information to you.
One of the indications that we are in the last days in found in that comprehensive list in II Timothy 3. Listen a moment.
II Timothy 3:1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.
2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
I do not want to fall into that trap. I do not want to promote the end time agenda. I do not want to fall to the spirit of the age, unthankful, unholy.
I want to give God thanks in everything!
Friends, let us spend this day, Thanksgiving, being super grateful for everything in our lives.
Thank you for joining us today. We are thankful for you.