I SUPPOSE one of my favorite stories was told by Corrie ten Boom. She, like her father, was a Dutch watchmaker. During World War II, under Hitler, the family was imprisoned for rescuing and hiding Jews in safety in their home. That was the parents and two children, Betsy the older sister, and Corrie the younger.
The family met their death while in prison, except for Corrie. She lived to get out after the American allies entered the war and Hitler was finally defeated.
While in prison, some would smuggle in Bibles and hold daily Bible readings. Corrie and her saintly sister Betsy were in the same prison. Betsy had the spiritual maturity to lead Corrie. One day, as Corrie relates, Betsy said to her younger sister that they must “give thanks to God for all things. At that time, the prison floor, covered with straw, was infested with fleas. So Corrie objected to her sister, “You mean we have to thank God for the fleas?” Betsy answered, “Yes, the fleas, too.” So they did. They learned later that it was because of the FLEAS, that they had the freedom to carry on with their daily Bible reading. The German guards would not enter the barracks to search for Bibles. Finding them they would confiscate them. The infestation of FLEAS kept the guards away! “In everything give thanks.”
Recently, we published two booklets on God’s full control. One was regarding calamities and storms. The second one was inspired by a verse I had not seen in writing the first booklet. The main part of that verse is from the book of Revelation and says,
And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree. And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to HURT the earth and the sea, Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.
You see, the Lord God DOES control the winds, and all things, even the small things like the fleas!
He even controls and allows false teachers to become famous on TV and milk gullible people of there resources to make themselves rich. I heard one of them one time relating how foolish it was to think that God is in control of all things, with all the evil in the land. And he is supposed to be a Bible teacher?
But back to our subject. It is natural enough to be willing to thank God for life and breath that He has given you, but most of the time we don’t even do that. Non-Christians seldom think about such things, but some may at times.
But what about DEATH? Why thank God for that? Death is our enemy, right? Well, I guess you could say that, at least until the God we love who has full control turns even DEATH into our friend! That being the case, surely we should see that “in everything give thanks” also encompasses DEATH. Yes, had there been no SIN to ever enter the world, there would have been no death. But SIN did enter, and God has control of that, too. So with sin here, would you want to live forever, or even for hundreds of years on this evil world that is waxing worse and worse? Would you not yearn for the time when God would take you out of this world, release you into the world He has waiting for His people? You can see, then, that sometime DEATH can be a good thing when God has His hand in it. He consoles us in our sorrow with Psalm 72:14—
“He shall redeem their soul from deceit and violence: and precious shall their blood be in His sight.” But Psalm 116:15 is better-known— “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.”
As for God having control of SMALL things as well as large things, can’t you almost hear the Eyptian Pharoah and his household saying something like, “All these locusts, all the frogs, all these FLIES,—this can’t be God, it must be, a, a . . . CLIMATE CHANGE. That’s what it is?” So Pharoah changes his mind that may have been really beginning to think about letting the children of Israel go. He hardens his heart, again and again.
But were those plagues sent by God a GOOD thing? Well, not for the wicked, necessarily, but for God’s people, even the chosen nation of Israel, they were a fantastic, supernatural boon for their future; they ultimately lead to freeing them from Egyptian bondage, and God got the glory for letting His power to be known and felt.
WHAT ABOUT RICHES AND POVERTY?
We can and should thank God for either, and for both. We just looked at Psalm 72. Look now at Psalm 62:10— “. . . If riches increase, set not our heart upon them.” And 1 Timothy 6:17 says, “Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy.”
It is amazing and wonderful to see how practical is the Word of God. Look at Proverbs 30:7-9—
“Two things have I required of Thee; deny me them not before I die: Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: Lest I be full, and deny Thee, and say, Who is the Lord? Or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain.”
Some can be thankful for riches and make godly use of them; with others, riches can be a curse instead of a blessing. God knows what we can handle. If our hearts be true and we want what He wants for us, we know we can depend on Him and trust Him to give us what is best for us and what is to His glory.
The apostle Paul tells us in Philippians 4:11—
“. . . I have learned, in whatever state I am, therewith to be content.” Verse 12 says, “I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.” Verse 13, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth [strengthens] me.”
We are not wise enough to know what we need day by day. But we have an all-controlling God who is LOVE and is looking after our welfare. In faith we must truly trust Him. He can separate our “wants” from our “needs.” We KNOW He know what is best!
WHAT ABOUT AFFLICTION?
Surely, according to nature and our natural mind we can miss seeing any good at all in affliction, or in sickness. It is so HARD on our fleshly bodies, including our minds. How can any good be found there?
Yet, one of the most famous of kings, King David said, “Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept The word.”
Let us look at the verses surrounding this one. See Psalm 119:64-68:
“The earth, O Lord, is full of Thy mercy; teach me Thy statutes.
“Thou hast dealt well with Thy servant, O Lord, according unto Thy word.
“Teach me good judgment and knowledge: for I have believed Thy commandments.
“Before I was afflicted I went astray: but NOW have I kept Thy word.
“Thou art good, and doest good; teach me Thy statutes.
“The proud have forged a lie against me: but I will keep Thy precepts with my whole heart.
“Their heart is as fat as grease; but I delight in Thy law.”
Think about it. Since God wants our heart in tune with Him, if it takes sickness and affliction to move us to be more in tune, it is a blessed thing.
Try to be more diligent. Go to the Holy Scriptures and see how God has dealt with His people through thousands of years of history.
Note the difference between punishment as judgment of God and chastisement as a training or correcting tool in His hand. Affliction may be not only a correcting tool, but also a tool of prevention, to keep one from straying.
The Lord is the Good Shepherd. I have read that sometimes a shepherd of sheep will purposely break the leg of one of the sheep who is in the habit of straying. Doing so may sound cruel, but the measure is performed in love, because it actually saves the life of that sheep, who could stray, being the dumb animal he is, and tumble over a cliff to his death.
Our Good Shepherd is not only loving, but He is all-wise. He is worthy of our trust every second. He means for His people to fully trust Him, and it rejoices His heart when we do.
This earth is not meant to be our Utopia, but our “boot-camp.”