Giving Thanks Even for Fleas

Can we ever be too thankful? I think not, and I believe Scripture backs me up. Yet life is often a struggle, and it becomes so easy to fall into the habit of fretting, complaining, or even despair. So let’s learn a lesson on giving thanks from Corrie ten Boom.

Giving thanks in all things

Perhaps you already know of the ten Boom sisters, Corrie and Betsy. But if not let me introduce these two unmarried middle-aged Dutch sisters.

For the ‘crime’ of hiding Jews the Nazis condemned them to the Ravensbruück concentration camp. Only their long years of faith helped them endure the harsh and inhumane conditions. And in a certain way, even prosper. Especially the older sister Betsy, with her unwavering childlike faith and trust.

As the guards herded them into the filthy flea-infested barracks, Corrie cried out. “How can we live in such a place?”

To which Betsy replied, “Show us. Tell us how.” And the astonished Corrie realized her sister was praying. Asking God, in serenity, to show them a way. And then urged “Corrie, reread that chapter we read this morning!”

Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in everything; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 CSB

“That’s it! That’s the answer!” Betsy cried out. “Let’s start by thanking God for every single thing about this barracks!” But poor Corrie’s faith wasn’t quite up to that. And looking around the grimy, foul-smelling room she, “Such as?”

So Betsy prayed, thanking God for his blessings to them – even in that place that seemed so God-forsaken.

“Thank you, Lord, that we’re here together,” she prayed. Which made Corrie bit her lip.

And that you enabled us to smuggle the New Testament in,” she added. “And that because of the overcrowding here so many will be able to hear the word!”

“Oh yes Lord, thank you!” Corrie cried. And with remorse, she repeated her sister’s praises as they prayed aloud together.

Thanking God for fleas

And then Betsy continued to thank the Lord, even for the fleas. But that was too much for Corrie. “The fleas? No Betsy, not even God could make me grateful for fleas!”

“Give thanks for everything and in all circumstances,” Betsy reminded her. So Corrie thanked God for the fleas, even though she believed her sister had it all wrong.

Only weeks later did she learn how right Betsy was, once again. The fleas kept the guards from entering the barracks. And gave them the freedom to read the Bible without fear of discovery!’

Give thanks even for fleas?

We all face difficult circumstances, though usually they are not as overwhelming. And it would be easy to give in to worry and despair. Like Corrie almost did, and might have, had it not been for Betsy’s unwavering trust and faith.

Look for God’s hand

So let’s remember, like Betsy, to always look for God’s hand in our lives, and remember that:

  1. God’s keeping power will keep us safe even in life’s greatest storms.
  2. That he always works all things out for good.
  3. God is an everlasting help in the hardest of times.
  4. God’s light can outshine even the darkest of places.
  5. He wants us to give thanks for all things and in every circumstance.
  6. There is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still.

There is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still. – Corrie ten Boom

Betsy found at least 3 things for which to thank God – even in the depravity of Ravensbrück. My circumstances are not that bleak and likely yours aren’t either.

But when all starts to seem bleak, let’s remember that God is always with us, working things out according to his plan. And remember to thank him in all circumstances. Even in flea-ridden hovels! Cultivate a heart of thanksgiving, and look for God’s hand in your life at all times!

Images: Woman in field by Rainier Ridao | Corrie ten Boom.

12 thoughts on “Giving Thanks Even for Fleas

  1. Corrie’s book The Hiding Place provided memorable insight and perspective for me when I was still in my 20s. Her lessons still play in my mind from time to time, even four+ decades later. The story of the fleas is one of them. You are so right, Sheila, our circumstances don’t begin to compare to hers and Betsy’s. How dare I complain?!


    1. The same for me, Nancy. Her books have been such an encouragement to me throughout my Christian walk. There is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still, (by Corrie). Her life was a living proof of this!!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for sharing this again, Sheila. We’re in a time when thanksgiving must be a choice because chaos and sadness fill life. But God. He is, was, and will always be, He is the Light in the dark, the Hope in the chaos, the Promise of life everlasting, This is so timely. I deeply appreciate it.


    1. That’s so true, Dayle. We are surrounded by so much despair, negativity, anger, finger-pointing, and worry. Like you said, But God. I am so grateful that he is all that you said and more. But light always shines brighter in the dark, and his light will shine brightest in the darkest gloom!


    1. Thank you T.R. And I agree that the ten Boom family and The Hiding Place are great sources of comfort. Another of my favorite Corrie books is “In My Father’s House.” It really brings out what a special and unique family they were. A family worth aspiring to!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. An awesome reminder Sheila! It is all about perspective. Having an eternal view helps give thanks for everything, including what may look to be bad. This encourages me to look for blessings not the problems. Thank you for sharing.


    1. Thanks, Tom! We need such reminders from time to time, for sure!! As his children, God’s hand in our lives is always present. So we can always find blessings for which to be thankful!! God bless.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Praise the Lord! I’m so blessed that the Lord encouraged you through this post. I know it is hard sometimes to find the hidden blessings – but they are always there. And yes, thankfully, the Lord is always with us. He is so good and ever faithful!


  4. Wonderful, timely reminder that we are to give thanks always. So easy to do during the good times,yet so challenging when faced with life’s uncertainties. Through it all God is faithful!


    1. Thanks Ron for your encouragement. It is more challenging in rough times to remain thankful. But by keeping our eyes on the Lord’s faithfulness, we can indeed do so!


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