Giving Thanks Even for Fleas {Corrie ten Boom}

Can we ever be too thankful? I think not, and I believe Scripture backs me up. Yet life is often hard, and it becomes so easy to fall into the habit of fretting, complaining, or even despair.

So let’s learn a lesson on giving thanks from Corrie ten Boom…

Perhaps you already know of the Ten Boom sisters, Corrie and Betsy. But in any case, let me introduce these two unmarried middle-aged sisters who were incarcerated in the Ravensbrück concentration camp during WWII for the ‘crime’ of hiding Jews from Nazi extermination.

Harsh and inhumane conditions which only their long years of faith and walking with God helped them endure. And in a certain sense enabled them to even prosper there. Especially Betsy, with her childlike faith and trust.

Even after being herded into filthy flea-infested barracks.

“How can we live in such a place?” Corrie wailed. To which Betsy calmly prayed, “Show us. Show us how.” And Corrie realized her sister was praying. “Corrie,” she urged, “read that chapter we read this morning!”

“Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus toward you.”

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 WEB

“That’s it! That’s the answer!” Betsy cried out. “Let’s start by thanking God for every single thing about this barracks!” But poor Corrie’s faith wasn’t quite up to that. And looking about the grimy, foul-smelling room she inquired skeptically, “Such as?”

So Betsy prayed, thanking God for his blessings to them – even in that seemingly God-forsaken place.

“Thank you, Lord, that we’re here together,” she prayed. And Corrie bit her lip.

“And that you enabled us to smuggle the New Testament in,” she added.

“And because of the crowding so many will be able to hear its message!”

“Oh yes, Lord, thank you!” Corrie cried. And with a remorseful, repentant heart, repeated her sister’s praises as they prayed out loud together.

And then Betsy went on to thank the Lord, even for the fleas.

But that was too much for Corrie. “The fleas? No Betsy, not even God could make me grateful for fleas!”

“Give thanks in everything and in all circumstances,” Betsy reminded her. So Corrie thanked God for the fleas, though convinced her sister had it all wrong.

Only weeks later did she learn how right Betsy was, once again. For those fleas kept the guards from entering the barracks, granting them free reign to read the Bible without discovery!

Give thanks in everything, even fleas!

We all face difficult circumstances, though perhaps none as overwhelming as those the ten Boom family faced. And it would be easy to give in to worry and despair. Like Corrie nearly did, and might have, had it not been for Betsy’s great trust and faith.

Let’s remember, like Betsy, to always look for God’s hand in our lives, and remember:

  • That God’s keeping power will keep us safe even in life’s greatest storms.
  • That God is an everlasting help even in the hardest times.
  • That God’s light can outshine even the darkest of places.
  • That wants us to give thanks in all things and in every circumstance.
  • That there is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still.

There is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still. – Corrie ten Boom

Betsy found at least 3 things for which to thank God – even in the depravity of Ravensbrück. My circumstances are not nearly as bleak as theirs, and likely yours aren’t either.

So when all seems bleak, let’s work at remembering that God is always with us and working things out according to his plan. And to thank him in all things-even fleas!

Cultivate a heart of thanksgiving, and look for God’s hand in your life at all times!

IMAGES: Woman praising by BarbaraJackson. | Watercolour background by AtsyBee. | Corrie ten Boom by unknown photographer – De geschiedenis van de familie Ten Boom (1921), Public Domain,

Published by Signora Sheila

I am a wife, mom, nonna, blogger, and missionary in Italy. But really, I'm just an ordinary woman on a journey, trying to slow down enough to hear the still small voice of God and live for all that is truly important in this world.

8 thoughts on “Giving Thanks Even for Fleas {Corrie ten Boom}

    1. Thank you T.R. And I agree that the ten Boom family and The Hiding Place are great sources of comfort. Another of my favorite Corrie books is “In My Father’s House.” It really brings out what a special and unique family they were. A family worth aspiring to!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. An awesome reminder Sheila! It is all about perspective. Having an eternal view helps give thanks for everything, including what may look to be bad. This encourages me to look for blessings not the problems. Thank you for sharing.


    1. Praise the Lord! I’m so blessed that the Lord encouraged you through this post. I know it is hard sometimes to find the hidden blessings – but they are always there. And yes, thankfully, the Lord is always with us. He is so good and ever faithful!


  2. Wonderful, timely reminder that we are to give thanks always. So easy to do during the good times,yet so challenging when faced with life’s uncertainties. Through it all God is faithful!


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