This account is from Corrie ten Boom's book The Hiding Place. I don't think I'll ever forget it and I hope it will have the same effect on you.
During WW II, Corrie and her sister Betsie had been arrested in Holland for trying to help Jews escape the Holocaust. They ended up in Ravensbruck, one of the most infamous Nazi concentration camps. Their barracks had been built to hold 400 prisoners, but by the time the sisters arrived at the camp, the one-room building held more than 1,400 women.
Living conditions were unsufferable. The women were housed like stacked cordwood on dirty, flea-infested straw that was strewn on wooden platforms. The fleas feasted night and day until everyone was covered in itchy, raised welts.
If it hadn't been for their Bible and the comfort the sisters were able to take from Betsie's readings, Corrie didn't know how they could have survived from day to day. If the guards had ventured into the room they would have discovered the forbidden Bible. Not only would it have been confiscated, but the consequences would have been brutal. Over and over, the two sisters wondered over the mystery of why the guards never inspected their barracks.
One morning Betsie read the Bible verse in 1 Thess. 5:18 that said, "Give thanks in all circumstances." She insisted that they put this into practice, feeling certain that giving thanks was the answer to their suffering. As Corrie tells the story, her sister named a litany of things they needed to thank God for--from the amazing circumstances that enabled the sisters to stay together, to the Bible she held in her hands, to the other women in the camp. But when Betsie began to thank God for the suffocating room and finally for the fleas, Corrie balked. It seemed impossible to Corrie to find anything for which to thank God in the deprivation of a concentration camp.
But Betsie insisted, reminding Corrie that God said, "In all circumstances." Corrie recalled standing in that room with all the other women, thanking God for the fleas and being certain that, for once, Betsie was wrong. Yet that prayer proved to be a turning point for the women. Their circumstances hadn't changed, but their attitude did. Betsie and Corrie began to connect with the women in a way that changed those barracks and the women imprisoned there. It wasn't until much later that Corrie discovered the reason the dreaded inspection never happened and their beloved Bible remained undiscovered. It was the very same reason she and Betsie were never stopped from having their much-anticipated Bible studies.
The guards refused to set foot into those barracks because of the our-of-control flea infestation. When Betsie took God at His word and thanked Him in all curcumstances, she had no idea those fleas were actually a gift from God.
There was a time when I too would have balked. Now I understand.