The Hiding Place put my in my place. I have had personal struggles. That seems to be my lot in life post-partum for about a year or so. They are very real struggles and trials, and I'm not trying to belittle what I'm going through, because there is no real comparison between people. Life is more of an individual sport, everyone trying to reach their own personal record, personal best in everything. However, reading about this very real hell turned to heaven blew my mind. Corrie ten Boom lived in Holland during WWII and she, her father and sister were very good Christians. The epitome of the word. Her father was so full of wisdom. She found herself the leader of an underground operation to help Jews hide from the Nazi's. Because of this, she, her sister and her father were imprisoned. Her father did not live long after that (he was very elderly, she was in her 50s herself). She and her sister Betsy were in one of the harshest concentration camps. Betsy, the older sister, had a most wonderful Christian spirit. She looked at everything from the point of Jesus. She took the word of the Bible into her heart and soul and let all good from it permeate everything she did and everything she was. Her spirit spread and changed everyone around her. Corrie had a harder time. She thought about the person who betrayed her to the Nazi's. Once she finally had a name for this person, anger festered. She asked her sister "Don't you FEEL anything for this man?" and to her, she meant anger, resentment or some other negative feeling. Betsy replied "Oh yes, I pray for him all the time!" When Corrie would express sorrow for those being persecuted, Betsy would express sorrow for the persecutor, the one who had no love. She wanted to show them that love was so much stronger than hate. It was love that she gleaned from the Bible and shared with everyone else to help them endure the harsh reality of life in a concentration camp. When they were first assigned their barracks, they found it was crawling with fleas. Betsy insisted that they give thanks to the Lord for ALL things, since the Bible didn't say to give thanks only for the GOOD things. They had miraculously been able to smuggle in a compact copy of the bible and they were sharing it, having sermon meetings, which could have been harshly punished, but their barracks, for some reason, didn't seem to have much supervision. One day, Betsy and the others who were assigned to work in the barracks knitting socks and a disagreement about what size they were to be making one day and asked the supervisor to come in and settle the matter. All of the overseers refused to enter their barracks-because of the fleas. The fleas that she insisted they thank the Lord for. The fleas that allowed them to have and share their one source of joy and strength by driving away those who would punish them for it. Wow. I also learned that God will give us the strength for any given situation, but that we need to have faith that He will give it to us when we need it. And that some things are too hard for us to bear and we need to be satisfied that there are answers, and we may not be ready for them or able to bear them. We need to be content to know that God knows. "Be still and know that I am God" I also learned about forgiveness. When all was over, Corrie wanted to let Betsy's dream come true to help those hurt to recover and heal emotionally. Not just those who were wronged, but those involved with inflicting it. Once while speaking, one of the actual guards from her concentration camp came up to her, thanking her for her message of hope. That sins can be forgiven. He extended his hand. She felt that she could not lift her hand to his. She had preached forgiveness, but could she forgive? She offered a few silent, pleading prayers, but it was not until she actually lifted her hand to his that forgiveness flooded through her.
I have a hard time forgiving, and I have never had things done to me as were done to her. I have a hard time letting go of control, even to God, whom I believe in. But in reading this, I have come to realize a little better of how to go about doing so.
If you've ever wondered how people could go through something as horrible as a concentration camp and come out still believing in God, this book has the answer. I could not provide an answer, but Corrie does. And she does it beautifully.