Thank God For Fleas

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Have you ever faced a situation in life that was so irritating that you felt for sure like you were under attack from the devil himself but in the end it turned out that it was actually the Lord allowing the irritant not trying to harm you but to protect you? We forget that our “all wise” Father is working around the clock on behalf and taking what the enemy means for evil in our lives and turning it for good.

Take the story of Corrie and Betsie ten Boom, sisters who were also Dutch Christians who were arrested for harboring Jews from the Nazis in Holland during World War 2. They were sent to prison at Ravensbruck, a German concentration camp who’s conditions were hideous at best. Besides the rancid straw that covered the floors and living conditions so harsh the place was infested with fleas. Not even the guards liked to go inside.    

As Corrie and Betsie prayed over their living conditions Betsie felt led to read aloud from 1 Thessalonians 5:14-18 where it reads, “Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all. See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

For Corrie, thanking Jesus for the things even though they were uncomfortable brought her a sense of peace. It began to make sense that even though they were living in such cramped quarters and the stench was overwhelming along with the fact that the guards loathed entering the barracks it allowed the women to pray and read together without being detected by the guards. Yet, when Betsie thanked Jesus for the fleas that filled the barracks in which they were living it was too much for Corrie. Corrie interrupted her sister to say, “Betsie, there’s no way even God can make me grateful for a flea.” Bestie corrected her sister back saying, “Give thanks in all circumstances the Bible tells us, not just the pleasant ones.”

As time went on the girls came to learn the reason the guards would never enter the barracks where the women were housed together like sardines was due to the flea’s that infested the barracks. The guards were afraid of the fleas. Immediately Corries mind raced back to the morning when Betsie was led of the Lord to read from 1 Thessalonians 5 thanking God for the harsh conditions they lived, including the fleas.

Sometimes in life we are called to endure harsh situations and due to the fact that some of God’s blessings are a result of the difficulties we are facing. Thats why we are called to give thanks in all circumstances and not just the pleasant ones, and most certainly not just the things we understand. We must not forget God’s ways are high above our ways and when we can’t trace God’s hand working in our situation we trust His heart.

The best way to get through the hard things we will each face in life is having a heart that overflows with gratitude in all things always remembering that even fleas can be God’s mercies in disguise.

“Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.”

Psalm 100:4-5


Michael Osthimer




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