I’ve said for a very long time now, based on my own experience, that there are always blessings in our lives. And that means there is always something to be thankful for. Whether it’s as simple as the reality that you woke up this morning and can breathe on your own, or it’s the birth of a child.
When things are really bad – frustration, disappointment, loneliness, sickness, anxiety about the unknown or sometimes the known, feeling left out, unappreciated, unnoticed, misunderstood – what else? Just whenever things are really bad, we can always find one thing (usually more than one) to be thankful for!
The Hiding Place
I love the story from Corrie ten Boom’s book, The Hiding Place, in which she shares the story of her sainted sister, Betsie, who refused to be angry or frustrated or despairing that they were in a concentration camp during World War II. Corrie honestly shares that she did not understand how Betsie could do that. I totally relate to Corrie! I was so with her on her complete bewilderment at her sister’s constant ‘attitude of gratitude’ during their horrible circumstances.
Corrie relates how there was a terrible, masochistic guard in their section of the camp who mercilessly and consistently tortured the women by words and deeds. Betsie insisted on praying for all the guards, though Corrie and most of us, let’s face it, couldn’t understand why she’d do such a thing. Then, one seemingly awful day, those women prisoners realized that, in the wretchedness of their current existence, they had lice! Yes, lice. Which in a place where no one could bathe, everyone was in uncomfortably close quarters, and there was little ventilation or sanitation, who could be surprised that there were lice? But seriously? That’s really kicking someone when she’s down!
The ‘silver lining‘ of the presence of these parasites was that the guards in the camp refused to enter their cells once the lice infestation was discovered. Their captors certainly did not want to acquire lice on their bodies so they tended to steer clear of those who were afflicted. Thus, thankfully, the women who were imprisoned in that terrible place no longer had to worry about being physically and verbally abused by any of the guards, including that masochistic tyrant.
They were only too happy to live with lice if that meant they could live in relative peace and certainly without being tortured. And so, Corrie discovered that her sister, who had said they should thank God in everything, saw the wisdom and beauty of Betsy’s point of view, but more of those in her grateful heart. Corrie also came to realize that Jesus’ plea to His Father, “forgive them for they know not what they do,” was the rationale anchoring Betsie’s desire to pray for the guards.
Maybe it’s not prison…
Now, we are not, thankfully, in concentration camps right now. But we can sometimes feel like we’re in lockdown as prisoners are. But it’s so critical to find the blessings and to pray in thanksgiving for all of them, and even to thank God for the ‘lice’ in our lives! What are the things that right now seem annoying or worse and yet we can see how much more difficult or just less joyful life might be without them?
Finally, we must thank God in all circumstances, “whatever state we are in,” to paraphrase Saint Paul, because we have to trust that God’s got a plan. And, as we read in Isaiah, Chapter 61, God “bestows a crown of beauty instead of ashes” on those who grieve. It takes time, but God’s timing is not ours. Just trust Him, depend on the grace of God to give you strength and peace. That is my prayer for us all.
If you have some extra time on your hands, consider reading The Hiding Place. It’s a fabulous book of inspiration. And here’s a great song about how the “ordinary” is always worth celebrating and rejoicing in; praise God for the ordinary, the struggles, and the joy.