I just finished re-reading The Hiding Place – the story of Corrie Ten Boom’s imprisonment in the German Concentration Camp. It would be easy at the onset of the book to wonder why God would allow these innocent people to suffer as they did. Starvation, cold, fleas, lice, cruel punishment, humiliation, and hatred were only some of the hard things the prisoners endured. Why, Lord? Why?
Life is full of hard questions, isn’t it? Have you ever asked or been asked questions such as:
Why do God’s children suffer?
Why is a faithful Christian taken to heaven when they’re young?
Why do young children, who are so innocent get terminal diseases?
Why doesn’t God stop people from doing sinful things to innocent people?
If we really want answers, we need to do what this proverbs says –
They that seek the LORD understand all things. Proverbs 28:5b
We must seek the Lord. If we open God’s Word (the place where we find answers about God), we will understand all things. That doesn’t mean we’ll have the answers to all things, but we will understand because we will come to understand our God. If I am seeking the Lord, I learn that He loves me. I learn that He wants to conform me to His image. I find out that I am always under His care. I see that God gives men a will to choose Him or reject Him. I am reminded that one day He will righteously judge all sin and that men won’t always get away with the evil they have done.
In The Hiding Place Corrie tells about being sent to a barracks that was infested with fleas. Corrie asked her sister, Betsie how they were going to be able to survive such conditions. Here is Betsie’s wise answer:
Corrie! 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! It was in I Thessalonians. 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–. 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!
Betsie then prayed and thanked God for everything – including the fleas, because, as she said, “Give thanks in all circumstances. It doesn’t say’ in pleasant circumstances.’ Fleas are part of this place where God has put us.” Corrie said she was sure her sister was wrong about this!
During their stay at these particular barracks, the guards seldom came around, giving them much liberty to have Bible studies and prayer times with the other women prisoners. Some time later, they learned that the guards avoided their barracks because of the fleas! So even these little annoyances were part of God’s plan. Because Betsie sought the Lord, she understood this simple truth.
Are there “fleas” that you’re dealing with right now? Or perhaps they may seem more like elephants because of their enormity. Remind yourself to keep learning about your God so you, too, can understand that God is using even those difficult things for a purpose that we might not have answers for right now, but perhaps He will enlighten our understanding so that we might trust Him and thank Him for all things…even the fleas.