We scrambled across the intervening platforms [of the bunk beds], heads low to avoid another bump, and dropped down to the aisle, and edged our way to a patch of light.
"Here! And here another one!" I wailed. "Betsie, how can we live in a such a place?"
Corrie Ten Boom and her sister Betsie had just arrived in Ravensbruck. Some people called it a concentration camp. Others called it hell. Corrie and her sister called it home.
"Corrie!" [Betsie] said 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!"...
In the feeble light I turned the pages. "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... .'" It seemed wrtten expressly to Ravensbruck.
"Go on," said Betsie. "That wasn't all."
"Oh yes: '...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-'"
"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 asked....
"Such as?" A pocket-sized question with over-sized implications. If we never answered the question, "Such as?" would leave us empty, dark, and foul. Like the room Corrie and her sister stood. But the answer to such a question replenishes the empty. Kindles the dark. Sweetens the foul.
"Such as being assigned here together."Those words: "Thank You God for the fleas." They stuck with me - the way honey sticks to the bottom of the bear's jar. I only wanted to say I had read Corrie Ten Boom's iconic story, and I found myself stuck in her words, "Thank You God for the fleas." I've never quite broken free.
I bit my lip. "Oh yes, Lord Jesus!"
"Such as what you're holding in your hands."
I 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," said Betsie. "than 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 serenly, "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. But this time I was sure Betsie was wrong.
How many times have I walked around complaining about so much less than fleas?
"Who spilled water all over the floor? I just love stepping in this mess."
" How did this rug get way over here? Why does it always end up on the other side of the room?"
"Seriously child. You're the one who took off your shoes. How am I supposed to know where you put them?"
And all this in just one afternoon! If you can believe it, I actually topped off this splendid display of gracious motherhood with a snide comment towards my husband. After explaining his rough week and horrible night's sleep I said, "You know, it's not much fun to be around you when you're so critical," (Talk about the plank in my own eye!) He gave me an eye of his own.
So I sit here tonight convicted of my critical spirit: Momma's audible never-ending commentary on life. Commentary laden with sarcasm disguised as wit, and self-righteousness disguised as discipline. How far away I am from being
This week's list? Seven good and perfect unpleasant circumstances for which I say, "Thank you."
57. Thank you for the massive brown, fuzzy spider who has made his home behind the siding of our front door. (Please help him capture all the fleas.)
58. Thank you the abundant amount of food that makes its way to the floor every day.
59. Thank you for the LEGOs, the K'nex, the Chick-fil-A toys that we can afford to scatter under my bare feet.
60. Thank you for my oldest son who needs me to share Your Grace and Mercy daily. What would I do without Your ever-present wisdom?
61. Thank you that Great-Grandma passed away last month and now sits in Your glorious presence!
62. Thank you that my ACL is torn again and I will undergo surgery on Thursday. Please help me be a Light in a world I would otherwise never have entered.
63. Thank you that I haven't seen my Mom and Dad in over 7 years...
Notes of Encouragement - Oh these lyrics. Like a double-edged sword. They cut to the bone.
Words of Affirmation - If a picture is worth a thousand words, may the picture painted by these words never fade.
May I Pray with You? - Oh Lord, you are good and perfect. And all that you give is good and perfect. Help me to see the world at the end of my pointing fingers. Help me to exchange my critical spirit for thankfulness. For all is a gift, no matter what the circumstance. Amen.