Are You Thankful for the Fleas?

I have never heard of anyone being thankful for fleas…until I heard the story of a lady named Corrie ten Boom. Corrie, living in Holland during the 1940’s, was arrested and sent to one of the worst places on earth.


Corrie, along with many others, landed in one of the worst concentration camps in Nazi Germany. Her crime … helping Jews flee Hitler’s regime and escape to freedom. I can’t even begin to understand the conditions of her life and of the camp she was sent to. But, from the descriptions, the camp was worse than the worst place you can imagine. Lack of food. Lack of the basic necessities to sustain life. Lack of sanitary conditions – causing great risk to life. The labor was extreme. In a space created for 400 people, lived about 1400 women. And, this space was infested with fleas!

This description fails to even bring a bit of justice to the conditions; and, I can’t even (or would want to) imagine such a situation. But, in spite of this place and constantly being swarmed and bitten by the fleas, Corrie and her sister, Betsie, found a way to be thankful for those very fleas.

Corrie had managed to smuggle a Bible in with her – a crime punishable by death…or worse. And, after the long day’s work, she and her sister would pull out the Bible and read it together. Eventually, others joined them. Through the horrible conditions and the threat of death, Corrie and Betsie had the opportunity to share Christ with many others and bring a hope that can only be found through Jesus.

Amazingly, the guards never searched the barracks where the Bible was kept and the Bible studies were held. And it was all because of the fleas. You see, the guards wanted nothing to do with the particular barracks that these ladies lived in. Mostly, they wanted nothing to do with the fleas. So, it was the fleas that kept Corrie and her sister from being found out and punished beyond death – and it was the fleas that they gave thanks for!

When we step back for a moment and try to see beyond our immediate circumstances, we will often find a much different story. I bet that you, like myself, have things in your life right now that you really do not like, that are unfair, or that are causing great problems in your life. Is it possible, that in some way, God could use this for something good, something bigger? I am not suggesting that we take everything in life lightly, or pretend that everything in life is rosy, or that we go looking for deplorable circumstances. I am just thinking that on some days my attitude could be a bit different and that God could use my difficulties in a way to bless me and to bless others. So, the simple and difficult question we must answer is: What is it for you that might be your ‘fleas’?

Find out more about Corrie’s story … do an internet search for Corrie ten Boom.

What are the fleas in your life? What has God used to make you stronger, to bless you, and to allow you to help others? You can leave a comment below.

2 Comments to “Are You Thankful for the Fleas?”

  • Brandon February 10, 2011 at 9:31 am

    Great post! I actually have never heard of that story…very interesting! By the way, I wrote a blog post on my site about yours! Your site has been really helpful!

    • Steven Cribbs February 10, 2011 at 10:55 am

      I am glad the site has been helpful. And thanks for the reference in your post!

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