Blessed Fleas

Wake Up Call

I have a small paperback book in my library that is old, yellowing and dog eared. I had not picked it up for more than twenty years but a few days ago I pulled it off the shelf and I’m so glad I did. The book is The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom. It is the remarkable story of Corrie and her sister Betsie who were sentenced to a Nazi concentration camp for hiding Jews in their home during World War II.

There is a little incident about fleas that is worth repeating. Corrie and her sister had miraculously smuggled a Bible into their barracks and they were holding nightly worship services for hundreds of women. One night in their private devotional time they were reading this passage in I Thessalonians; “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances”. Betsie immediately felt that giving thanks in their current condition was God’s answer to how they could survive each miserable day.

Corrie was doubtful but went along as Betsie began thanking God for EVERYTHING. But when Betsie thanked God for the horrible infestation of fleas they were living with, Corrie felt that went too far. At Betsie’s insistence, she finally managed to choke out her “thank you” but felt Betsie was dead wrong to give thanks for fleas.

In the meanwhile, their little congregation grew and grew and as no guards ever bothered them, they became bolder and finally started a second service after the evening roll call. Months went by until one afternoon Betsie found out why they were left to operate their makeshift church without interference. It was the fleas. When asked to settle a dispute, the guard refused to enter the door to their dormitory. She said; “That place is crawling with fleas!”

So the fleas were a blessing after all and God used them to make room for worship inside one of the worst hell holes on earth. When viewed from that perspective, Corrie could finally see a reason to thank God in all circumstances. Each of us would be wise to follow her example.

How do we know what hidden blessings are in our own “fleas”? Right now, pick the hardest, most unlikely thing in your own life and thank God for it. You may not see it right away but a time will come when God will turn it into a blessing – just like those blessed fleas.


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