Jill Pettus kicked off the first chapel series of the fall semester with the Highlands College cultural value, "Our attitude is gratitude." Challenging the student body's faith and perspective, Jill shared an impactful story of the lives of two sisters, Betsie and Corrie Ten Boom.
Betsie and Corrie's story took place in the 1940s during a time when Germany oppressed, and Jewish people were imprisoned. While Betsie and Corrie were not of Jewish heritage, their hearts were burdened to help these oppressed people.
Fully aware of the charges they could face, Betsie and Corrie chose to give refuge to a group of Jewish people in their home. Their allegiance to the Jewish people would soon be the reason these sisters found themselves imprisoned in the largest women's concentration camp in Germany. They instantly were surrounded by inconceivable levels of violation, trauma, and destruction.
When it felt as though circumstances could not get worse for Betsie and Corrie, their skin began to itch as fleas covered their bodies. Unsure of what to do, Betsie began to pray. She cried out to God, asking for Him to show her how to make it through these unbearable circumstances. At that moment, God reminded Betsie of a verse she read earlier that morning in 1 Thessalonians that reads, "Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus."
Little by little, the sisters began to take inventory of what they could thank God for, remembering the smallest blessings like having each other and their Bibles. As unbearable as things may have been, Betsie's faith began to grow, and she knew that God had a plan for them in that crowded concentration camp room.
As ridiculous as it sounds, Betsie and Corrie even began to thank God for the fleas because they genuinely believed God could use anything. With this new sense of gratitude came new hope, new strength, and a new attitude. They were stirred to action and began reading scripture aloud daily for their fellow inmates to hear. Soon these sisters began to hold entire church services in their barracks where hundreds of women would come to know God. So many women wanted to be a part of this phenomenal experience that Corrie and Betsie needed to hold multiple services just to accommodate them all.
Corrie and Betsie often thought how astonishing it was that the guards never stopped them from sharing their faith nor attempted to end their church services. However, one day, the sisters overheard a conversation between two guards about their specific barracks, barracks 28. The guards said that they would never step foot in barracks 28 due to the infestation of fleas. At that moment, they realized how the fleas acted as God's protection. What they once viewed as an undeserved punishment was the reason for their protection.
The sisters fully realized that giving thanks, even when it didn't make sense, changes the way we view our circumstances. An attitude of gratitude is the door to seeing God's provision.
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