In 1 Thessalonians 5:18, we are instructed to always be thankful – regardless of our circumstances. How is it possible? I’ve watched loved ones go through the most difficult years of their lives in 2014. What motivates us to be thankful when life seems to be one discouragement, disappointment, disaster, disease and death after another?
As I was meditating on these thoughts, a story came into my mind that always encourages me when I wonder how it’s possible to always be thankful. I’ve shared this story before, and I pray that it encourages you as it always does me.
Corrie Ten Boom was a woman who helped countless Jews avoid capture during World War II, and one of my personal heroes of faith. She and her family suffered unimaginable horrors during the Nazi holocaust, and the story of her faith and dependence on God during this time period has been beautifully captured in her book, The Hiding Place. Corrie Ten Boom and her family wanted to be used for the glory of God, and lived their lives out asking Him to guide each decision they made. He supernaturally opened many doors for them, and honored their desire to serve Him even during this dangerous time period in history.
Corrie ends up in a concentration camp at one point in the story. Up until this point, we see Corrie reminding herself of God’s promises when she faces difficult conditions, but when she enters this camp she ends up on a bed that is crawling with thousands of bed bugs. She gets out of bed feeling hopeless and abandoned, but thanks the Lord for all the blessings that she has despite the fact that she’s in a concentration camp. She is prompted to thank God for the bed bugs, but scratching the bites on her body says “I CANNOT thank God for this!” I know that if I were Corrie, there is no way I would have been able to thank God in that circumstance either.
Corrie decided to make the best of her situation. She was in a bunker in a concentration camp with limited time to live, and surrounded by hundreds of women who did not know God. She prayed for opportunities to share her faith so that others would believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. Because of the fact that the guards never entered their bunker, she was able to have two Bible studies a day with the women there, and many of them believed.
Months later, the guards entered Corrie’s bunker to remove a dead body, and she overheard one of them saying that the reason they never entered into her bunker was because it was infested with bed bugs! She was able to see the extraordinary way God opened doors for her to share her faith with others. In light of eternity, the bedbugs were not as important as the salvation of souls, and Corrie was finally able to thank God for the bed bugs.
Where are you today? Do you have a bed bug-like problem going on in your life right now? Something that is so horrible you’re sure it can’t be used for good in your life?
If you think your specific problem can’t be used by God, you’re in good company. The Bible is full of people whose circumstances seemed unfit for God’s work, but He used them anyway. Corrie Ten Boom was an old maid who worked at a clockmaker’s shop. By determining to honor God in every situation, she ended up saving the lives of many Jews and being instrumental in spreading the gospel to hundreds of hopeless people.
So how can you give thanks in all circumstances? There’s only one way: Christ’s way. Look to the joy set before you. If the future joy Jesus promises is real and you believe Him, there is no circumstance that can steal your thanksgiving.
Happy Thanksgiving Day to you all! 🙂