By Andy Waits, FBC Springville Associate Pastor/Worship & Students
SPRINGVILLE — I love reading books about WWII. Studying this time period has become a hobby for me. Specifically, I have interested in learning about the Holocaust. In the past few years I have visited Dachau Concentration Camp in Germany, as well as the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC. My growing interested has led me to several great books on the subject (The Diary of Anne Frank and Night). I am both humbled and horrified at the depravity and resilience of human beings.
I just finished reading a wonderful book titled The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom. Her family operated a watch shop in Holland during the 1930’s/1940’s. Their country was invaded and ruled by the Nazis for over five years. They were involved in the underground resistance, specifically hiding Jews to save their lives. Corrie and her entire family were eventually caught and send off to concentration camps. The book is her testimony of God’s providential care during such a chaotic time.
Corrie and her sister Betsie were taken to Ravensbrook Death Camp, outside of Berlin Germany. There they experienced the horrors of human wickedness. Because of her Dutch Reformed faith, Corrie was able to put this terrible situation in the context of the will of God. She held firmly to the fact that “every experience God gives us…Is the perfect preparation for the future only He can see. ” Reading her account was encouraging and spiritually refreshing. Even in life’s most dire moments, she never lost hope in God’s sovereignty.
One moving account was her and her sister being assigned their beds on their first day. They were taken to an overcrowded dormitory, where their beds consisted of old piles of straw. It was dusty and full of fleas. Reciting 1 Thessalonians 5:18 “Give thanks in all circumstances”, Betsie began to challenge Corrie to give thanks for the flea infested beds they would sleep on each night. While disgusted, Corrie even gave thanks for this, knowing God would never have allowed it unless He had a purpose in it.
Fast forward a few months and both sisters were given a work detail of sowing military socks. The factory the work was done is in was full, so the women in POD 28 were allowed to complete their daily quotas in their rooms. The guards refused to enter the building for fear of the fleas. This gave Corrie and Betsie a ministry. From a smuggled Bible, they lead Bible studies and prayer groups for these hopeless women. They shared the gospel with many on their deathbed and watched them respond in faith and repentance. Thankfully, many other women came to faith in Christ that would experience the gas chamber only a few days later. They became God’s hands and feet in Pod 28, thanks to these fleas. Had the guards found out about any of this, they would certainly have been executed immediately. However God used these pests to accomplish His purposes.
I don’t like traffic. Mosquitos serve no purpose to me. I struggle to have patients with incompetent people. Nothing frustrates me more than when the receipt paper runs out at the gas pump. Why do I always get behind a slow car when I am in a hurry?
I question how often I miss God’s purposes in life’s inconveniences. Is He trying to teach me something? Could He be using these annoyances to open doors for His Kingdom? Often it is in these moments of sudden change that He shows up in unexpected ways. Although I may never understand it in real time, I am slowly learning to ‘thank God for fleas.’