Thank God for the Fleas!

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Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”  1 Thessalonians 5:18
This can be one of the most misunderstood verses in the Bible.  It’s because of the word “in”.  People get that confused with the word “for”.  Often times people think we are to thank God “for” our circumstances, and that is hugely different than thanking Him “in” our circumstances.
The last time my husband and I experienced a flat tire along the side of the road, I wasn’t thankful “for” the flat tire or the delay in our schedule.  I was however thankful “in” the circumstance for my husband. He changed the tire and got us going again.
The reality is, we are all going to have “flat tires” in life.  They come in the shape of job loss, divorce, death,  or illness.  Flat tires can take many forms. They are usually unexpected and can be devastating.  None of us are immune to it.  Watching a parent struggle with a wayward child  is heartbreaking.  Watching friends surround and lift up that parent is life giving.  It is what you can be thankful for “in” a bad situation.
Often, it is the people that surround us in the midst of the flat tire that we can be the most thankful for “in” the circumstance.  Just as my husband changed our flat tire, when my nephew died he held me in his arms while I cried.  When  I lost my job, he lifted me up and supported me.  When he lost his Mom, I sat by his side as she slipped away.  Neither of us are thankful for the circumstances, but we are thankful we get to go through them together.
Whenever I’m struggling to find something to be thankful for “in” a circumstance, I always start with the fleas.
Corrie Ten Boom was arrested for hiding Jews during World War II,  along with her sister, Betsie. They were taken to Barracks 28 in Ravensbruck.  A room that was full of fleas.   When Corrie complained about the fleas,  Betsie reminded her of the verse they had read that morning.  1 Thessalonians 5:18, “be thankful in all circumstances.”  Corrie didn’t think she would ever thank God for the fleas, but they were thankful for the Bible she had hidden that the guards hadn’t found.
A pattern quickly developed in their life as they settled into their  new reality. After 11 hour work days they would come back to Barracks 28.  Each evening they read the Bible aloud to the other prisoners, and to the fleas.  At first they kept a look out, afraid the guards would find them.  Anyone caught with a Bible would be killed. The guards never bothered them, so they became more bold.  They started reading the Bible twice a day.  More and more women listened to the word of God being read in this tiny, cramped room.
Then, one day, Betsie discovered why the guards never bothered them.  It was the fleas.  They refused to come into Barrack 28 because of the fleas.  Corrie had no choice, she had to thank God for the fleas!
When I’m trying to find something to be thankful for in a difficult situation I start with the fleas.  I start small.  I find one little thing to thank God for in my circumstance, which leads to another thing, and then another.  It can be people, it can be objects, it can be fleas.
Look around, in the midst of the flat tire are there any fleas?  Start there!

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