In 1944 Corrie ten Boom and her sister Betsie were arrested for hiding Jews in their home in the Netherlands. For their crime they were taken to Ravensbruck Concentration Camp. As you might imagine, their experience in such a prison was horrific and continually life threatening. On one occasion Betsie was praying and expressing thanks for everything. Included in her prayer was “thank you for the fleas!” Her sister Corrie was astounded by such comments and afterwards argued such a point was ridiculous. Betsie explained that we should be thankful for everything, not just the pleasant things. Under the circumstances you can only imagine what Betsie was saying would be most difficult to accept. Her point proved to be true however, when the two sisters later discovered that the guards had refused to enter their barracks because they were flea infested. The distance this created between the prisoners and the guards proved to be life saving and significantly improved their quality of life whilst in the camp. Turns out “thank you for the fleas” made sense!
Perhaps, when we are feeling discouraged, downtrodden or weary we can gain strength by fostering a spirit of gratitude. It isn’t easy when we are hurting, but devoting time to this virtue can make a huge difference in providing us with the power to persevere. I promise you that it works. I love the old saying “In patience possess ye your souls.” Gratitude helps us to become patient and patience gives us the power to endure. Endurance ensures a favourable outcome and cheerful endurance is simply a game changer.
I will finish this point with a poem by Johnny Ray Ryder Jr. called ‘The Oak Tree.’ You will see that it can often be the hard times that help us discover just how strong we really are. And that is something we all need to know!
A mighty wind blew night and day
It stole the oak tree’s leaves away
Then snapped its boughs and pulled its bark
Until the oak was tired and stark
But still the oak tree held its ground
While other trees fell all around
The weary wind gave up and spoke.
How can you still be standing Oak?
The oak tree said, I know that you
Can break each branch of mine in two
Carry every leaf away
Shake my limbs, and make me sway
But I have roots stretched in the earth
Growing stronger since my birth
You’ll never touch them, for you see
They are the deepest part of me
Until today, I wasn’t sure
Of just how much I could endure
But now I’ve found, with thanks to you
I’m stronger than I ever knew.
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