During World War II, Corrie and her sister Betsie had been arrested in Holland for trying to help Jews escape the Holocaust.  They ended up in Ravensbruck, one of the most infamous Nazi concentration camps.  Their barracks had been built to hold 400 prisoners, but by the time the sisters arrived at the camp, the one-room building held more than 1,400 women.  Living conditions were insufferable.  The women were housed like stacked cordwood on dirty, flea-infested straw that was strewn on wooden platforms.  The fleas invested night and day until everyone was covered in itchy, raised welts.

If it hadn’t been for their Bible and the comfort the sisters were able to take from Betsie’s reading, Corrie didn’t know how they could have survived from day to day.  If the guards had ventured into the room they would have discovered the forbidden Bible.  Not only would it have been confiscated, but the consequences would have been brutal.  Over and over, the two sisters wondered over the mystery of why the guards never inspected their barracks.  

One morning Betsie read the Bible verse in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 that said, “Give thanks in all circumstances.”  She insisted that they put this into practice, feeling certain that giving thanks was the answer to their suffering.  As Corrie tells the story, her sister named a litany of things they needed to thank God for - from the amazing circumstance that enabled the sisters to stay together, to the Bible they held in their hands, to the other women in the camp.  But when Betsie began to thank God for the suffocating room and finally for the fleas, Corrie balked.  It seemed impossible to Corrie to find anything for which to thank God in the depravation in a concentration camp.

But Betsie insisted, reminding Corrie that God said, “In all circumstances.”  Corrie recalled standing in that room with all the other women, thanking God for the fleas and being certain that, for once, Betsie was wrong.  Yet that prayer proved to be a turning point for the women.  Their circumstances hadn’t changed, but their attitude did.  Betsie and Corrie began to connect with the women in a way that changed those barracks and the women imprisoned there.  It wasn’t until much later that Corrie discovered the reason the dreaded inspection never happened and the beloved Bible remained undiscovered.  It was the very same reason she and Betsie were never stopped from having their much anticipated Bible studies. 

The Fleas!

The guards refused to set foot into those barracks because of the out-of-control flea infestation.  When Betsie took God at His word and thank him in all circumstances, she had no idea those fleas were actually a gift from God.  

It’s easy to be grateful for the sunshine, the good things, plenty of food, meeting the budget, and compliant children.  But God tells us to express gratitude in all circumstances.  

Think about it.  That means we are called to offer thanks when the wind blows into our lives at hurricane force.  We are asked to thank Him when the money runs out long before the end of the end of the month and when the kids are pushing the boundaries and challenging us at every turn.  It doesn’t make any logical sense?  

Corrie tenBoom discovered the “sense” of giving thanks in all circumstances.  She discovered the vital link between gratitude and trust.  Through reading “The Hiding Place” and through the practice of keeping my own gratitude journal, I, too, have discovered this link.  Though we may not understand the ways of our circumstances, by thanking God we grow to acknowledge that He is in control - that He can be trusted.   We learn to release our iron-tight grip on our circumstances, and we experience a much-welcome reprieve from worry.

The importance of giving thanks is made clear in Philippians 4:6: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”  Interesting, isn’t it?  That antidote for anxiety is to pray with thanksgiving.  

The text above is from the book “One Simple Act” by Debbie Macomber, pages 9-12, Published by Pocket Books, New York, London, Toronto, Sydney, 2009. 


Wow!  What a great true story!  Blessings that bug us!  What can we do with this?  How about stop reading about someone else’s sweet experience and begin your own journey of thankfulness.   

Thankfulness and unthankfulness form a fork in the road of our journey with God.  One leads upward and the other downward - one to depravity and the other to a fresh revelation of God’s character and personality.  There is much to lose and much to gain through this pivotal attitude.  

Are you thankful for everything?  It’s not always easy to be thankful, especially when you’re not feeling it.  Some people are bent on negativity.  They actually derive a sense of superiority by complaining and looking down on everything around them.  

Let’s start the adventure.  Make a list of your many blessings which God has bestowed upon you.  Make another list of the things for which you do not feel thankful.  Now, prayer through both lists and give thanks knowing that God sees all and knows all.  Thank Him for your physical condition, for struggling relationships and more.  

This does not have to be a mechanical exercise.  You can pray with a deep inner confidence in the Lord’s love, which always moves Him to do what is best for us.  God sees the end of the situations of our lives, and He sees blessing.  

How attractive are we to the Lord when gratitude comes from our hearts and is expressed with our words! 

Use a computer to create a graphic made up of your words of thanksgiving.  Vary the fonts, sizes, colors and directions of your words.  In the end you will have created a work of art which serves as a reminder of how incredibly important gratitude is to you and the Lord.  

These google images provide visual examples of the concept. Your finest work will replace these and provide others with fresh examples to emulate.

On second thought, you don’t have to use a computer at all.  Perhaps you will have more fun using a variety of markers, pens or pencils to create a freehand and more personal graphic.  Again, the image below is from Google Images and offers a visual clue of what this project can look like.  Your words will center on thankfulness.