Wednesday, November 19, 2008

"Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances..." -Thes.5:16- 18

-Photo of Corrie Ten Boom

One of the most powerful books I have read was: "The Hiding Place" by Corrie Ten Boom.

This is the true story of the Ten Boom family who, during the Nazi occupation of The Netherlands, upon seeing what was happening to their Jewish neighbors and friends, asked themselves this age old question "If not us,...who; if not now,...when?" They answered it, ultimately at great cost.

The Ten Booms were devoutly Christian and lived a simple life. The patriarch of the family ran a watch shop that had been in his family for a century. Some of the family members, the author among them, worked there, selling and repairing clocks and watches. They also lived in the house in which the shop was located.

When the Nazis occupied their country, the reality of what it meant slowly dawned upon them, as they saw the treatment given to their fellow Dutch citizens of the Jewish faith. Moved by their plight, Corrie, the author at the age of fifty, together with other members of her family, including their father who was nearly eighty, became active in the Dutch underground.

When it became clear to the Ten Booms that Jews were being targeted for deportation and death, they had a false wall constructed in her bedroom, thereby creating a secret room. There, they would hide the terrified Jews who were staying with them, in the event of a Nazi raid upon their home.

Eventually denounced by someone to the Nazis, the Ten Booms were arrested and their home raided and torn apart by the Gestapo, in their search for the Jews they believed to be hiding there. At the time of the raid, the Ten Boom home was filled to capacity with Jews in hiding. So well concealed was the hidden room that had been created by the erection of the false wall, that these poor, terrified Jews managed to escape detection.

The Ten Boom family did not fare so well. It was upon their arrest that they learned first hand of man's inhumanity to man, and their faith was put to a test that they had never dreamt possible. It was faith, however, that sustained the author in what was to be her darkest hour of deepest despair.

There are many powerful stories in this book. One of the most memorable is the story about "The Fleas"

The Ten Booms were sent to concentration camps. Corrie ended up in the same camps as her sister, and at one point, they were transferred to new barracks. They found their new quarters to be a disgusting pit of filth.... with backed up plumbing, soiled and rancid bedding, and stacked platforms that would serve as their beds for the many months to come. As the sisters attempted to settle in, they discovered through the ensuing bites, that the place was also infested with a multitude of fleas. "How can we live in such a place!" Corrie cried out.... But, her sister prayed and asked God, "Show us. Show us how."

Betsie (Corrie sister) then remembered a Bible passage they had been reading earlier in the day. "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!"

Corrie couldn't understand that, but none the less began to give thanks for all blessings they had. So, they began to thank God for many things that were true blessings... that they had a Bible, that they were together, and so on. Eventually, they also thanked God for the fleas, because Betsie insisted that there must be a good reason that God was allowing the fleas. But Corrie responded with, "There is no way even God can make me grateful for a flea."

"Give thanks in all circumstances," Betsie reminded her. "It doesn't say in pleasant circumstances."

Corrie and Betsie began using their smuggled Bible to lead Bible reading in a large room within their barracks. They were perplexed as to why there was rigid surveillance everywhere else in the prison camp, but they had very little supervision in the barracks. This gave them the freedom to openly lead large groups of women in Bible readings night after night.

Eventually, there was an incident when a guard should've entered their barracks but refused to do so because of the fleas. Betsie and Corrie suddenly realized why they'd had so much freedom to lead big Bible studies in that big room... it was the fleas. The fleas were the reason they were able to openly share God's Word night after night!

The lesson to be learned here is:

Our Heavenly Father is teaching us to be thankful in all things and he will take care of us. It is easy to feel thankful and trust Him when you good things happen in our lives. But, sometimes ... you just have to trust that in spite of everything. If we understand the Lord’s teachings and promises, we will learn and grow from our adversities.

We should thank God for our adversities and pray for guidance in meeting them. Through that attitude and through our faith and obedience, we will realize the promises God has given us. It is all part of the plan.

When we give thanks in all things, we see hardships and adversities in the context of the purpose of life. We are sent here to be tested. There must be opposition in all things. We are meant to learn and grow through that opposition, through meeting our challenges, and through teaching others to do the same.

“I give unto men weakness that they may be humble,” and then promised that “if they humble themselves … and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.” (Ether 12:27).

The Lord gave a similar teaching and promise: “Verily I say unto you my friends, fear not, let your hearts be comforted; yea, rejoice evermore, and in everything give thanks; … and all things wherewith you have been afflicted shall work together for your good” (D&C 98:1, 3).

The Lord also said, “Know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good” (D&C 122:7).

Brigham Young stated: “There is not a single condition of life [or] one hour’s experience but what is beneficial to all those who make it their study, and aim to improve upon the experience they gain”

John Taylor stated: “We have learned many things through suffering. We call it suffering. I call it a school of experience. … I have never looked at these things in any other light than trials for the purpose of purifying the Saints of God that they may be, as the scriptures say, as gold that has been seven times purified by the fire”

"Trust in the Lord with All thy might, mind and strength. Lean NOT unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy path!" - Proverbs 3: 5-8

"I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you." - John 14:18.

"Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good; yea, when thou liest down at night lie down unto the Lord, that he may watch over you in your sleep; and when thou risest in the morning let thy heart be full of thanks unto God; and if ye do these things, ye shall be lifted up at the last day." -Alma 37:37