This book is one of many that changed my life. There is a chapter in which Corrie is challenged to forgive a man who had been one of the Nazi prison guards in the concentration camp she had been in. At first, she is unable to shake his hand when he offers it, after a post-World-War- II lecture she gave on forgiveness. But after praying, she has the grace to put out her hand and shake his.
I remember realizing: If God can forgive a Nazi guard, He can forgive me — I don’t deserve it, but it’s not about what I deserve. It’s about God’s grace.
When my parents were World War II refugees, they lived in various Displaced Persons camps run by the U.S. and other Allies. Sometimes it would be so cold that there was frost on the INSIDE walls of their “accommodations”. (I don’t know exactly what their living quarters were like,) At some point in there, my older brother (a baby!), one paternal uncle, and my paternal grandmother also lived in the same camp(s). At least they had shelter! Traumatic as it all was, thank you Allies (and, ultimately, God), for keeping my family alive! Others, as you know, suffered considerably more: in concentration camps, in battles on land, sea, and sky, and elsewhere.
LIFE IS A GIFT! And, I’m so grateful to live in a home with heat and hot water.
Corrie ten Boom was in a concentration camp during World War II, because her family had hidden Jews in their home. She decided to take seriously the Scripture, “… give thanks in all circumstances …” (1 Thessalonians 5:18), so she gave thanks for the fleas in her barracks. Sooner or later, she learned that the guards would avoid her barracks as much as possible, because of the fleas. In that way they did not get as much abuse as they might have. Perhaps most of us are not as faith-filled as Corrie ten Boom, but there is certainly a lesson to learn from her.
War is probably horrific for everyone touched by it, but perhaps it’s appropriate to also remember the positives.
Why do some (or perhaps all of us) encounter great trials and tribulations? I propose a few reasons here, several or all of which could occur together:
We are being tested by God. It can be an opportunity for growth, to trust in Him more.
We are being chastisedby God. ” … for the Lord disciplines those whom He loves, and chastises every child whom He accepts.” (Hebrews 12:6). This is a good thing, because it shows that God loves us enough to correct us.
We are suffering for our own or other people’s poor choices. We make bad decisions, or others take out their frustrations on us.
It’s just part of the fallen human condition. Because of original sin, we all suffer consequences such as illness, accidents, death, etc.
No matter the reason, we must trust that God is with us through these difficulties. I don’t see any other reason to hope.
(All temperatures are Fahrenheit.) Our heater was repaired last week, after about five days of non-operation. I was so happy that I cried from gratitude. It’s not that we’re experiencing frigid weather — I was able to warm the house up to a high of 66 degrees each day, by opening any curtains where the sun could stream in. Perhaps I’m a “climate wimp”. But, I had thought of how things might have been different — it could have been 32 degrees outside, it could have been a longer period of time, and so on. I thought of homeless people, people who can’t pay their heating bills, and about refugees and migrants who suffer through miserable weather. And I was so grateful for the friendly repairman who promptly came, once the needed part for our 30-year-old heater had been obtained. Not to mention, grateful that we could pay the bill.
This brought to mind another story, which happened around 1947, told to me by my mother. My parents and older brother had immigrated to the U.S., after being World War II refugees (displaced persons) in Europe for several years. They had been sponsored by my mother’s cousin, who had immigrated to the U.S. before World War II, perhaps being admitted on the strength of being a scientist. My mother’s cousin helped my parents to get a house. When they sat down to their first dinner there, they started to cry. Why? The dinner consisted of hot dogs and perhaps some other items. They had never had anything as good as hot dogs in the refugee camp, and they realized that others like them were still suffering deprivation.
After 70 years, somehow I’m still reliving my parents’ story. So whenever I eat hot dogs, or my heater is working, I’m grateful.