‘…always give thanks for all things in the name of our LORD Jesus Christ to God, even the Father.’
How often do we put this into actual practice? Answering for myself, I must say, sadly…not often.
We don’t tend to praise God as the first thing we think of when something goes wrong in our lives, we tend to complain, cry, and make a pity party for ourselves.
‘Why did you let this happen, God?’ we ask. But what we should be saying is, ‘I still love you, LORD. And I know You can see me through this.’
Giving thanks in all things reminds me of a story I once heard...
Two sisters were captured by Germans, during WWII. Bibles, of course, were prohibited in the concentration camps, but the LORD granted them one through a sympathetic commanding officer. That Bible had been through thick and thin, and the two sisters clung to it as reassurance of the love that their LORD had for them. As often as possible, the sisters would gather together a group of fellow prisoners and privately hold Bible studies in their cells. Many lives were touched through these women’s testimonies and faith…and the reading of the Word.
One time, though, the women were taken to another concentration camp. It was known as one of the most frequented ‘extermination camps’ and everyone there was on edge, knowing that they would probably die very soon.
Through being inspected by guards, showering, and dressing in ‘clothes’, the Bible still survived in the sisters’ possession.
Their new cells were large rooms. More than a dozen women were kept in each cell, and it was crowded and smelly – and was infested with fleas. The bunk that the sisters were assigned to was already occupied by three other women. They all laid on their sides to make room for all of them.
On that first day, the sisters took each other’s hands and prayed – for themselves, for their fellow prisoners. The older sister also prayed for their situation.
‘Thank you for this new cell. Thank you for the new women that we will meet here. Thank you for the opportunity to witness to more women about you. Thank you for the fleas - ’
‘The fleas?’ the younger sister interrupted.
‘Yes, sister. God says to give praise in all circumstances – not just the pleasant ones.’
‘Sister, there is no possible thing about fleas that I am thankful for.’
A few days later, after being able to hold several Bible studies in their cell, the sisters and other women gathered in a large building for their daily ‘meal’. A friend, from another camp (whom they didn’t know was also in this one), sat with them and they talked low.
‘God has been good in letting us continue with our Bible studies,’ the older sister told the friend.
‘The guards only come once or twice to our section of the prison building,’ the younger one said.
The friend chuckled softly. ‘I know why that is. They don’t want to catch any of those fleas that infest that part of the prison camp.’
The older sister turned to the younger one and said, ‘See, Corrie? We must be thankful for the fleas. Through them, God has kept the guards away from us and we have been able to continue with our studies.’
‘Yes, Betsie,’ Corrie nodded. ‘You were right. Let us thank God for our fleas!’