Friday, March 11, 2016

The Hiding Place

“The Hiding Place,” first published in 1971, an older book but still filled with pictures of hope and grace that can touch us today.

I love rereading books which are special to me. Recently I read again “The Hiding Place” by Corrie ten Boom.

I’m sure some who are reading this today have also read that book. The story of two sisters in their fifties and their father, in his eighties, who turned their home into a safe hiding place for Jews in Holland during World War II. As Christians, though they struggled with lying and breaking the law, they felt it was a service to God to help these people who were unfairly under torment.

Corrie comes across as a joyful, energetic, lover of life and of Jesus and of people. When she is in solitary confinement in prison, she thanks God for the gift he sends her—an ant who comes into her cell to give her company. When she learns that her father died soon after they were put in prison, she thanks Jesus that he is there to comfort her.

Corrie’s story of her time in the concentration camp with her sister Betsie is an intimate look at a Christian who struggles with her faith—with seething anger, shame and selfishness, pride, with drawing away from God. It is also a story of how we can be encouraged, challenged, and held up by the strength and faith of other Christians.

Betsie, who has had bad health all her life, suffers with great sickness and punishment for her slow work in the camp. Yet Corrie sees her sister praying for the Germans who hurt her, that God will forgive and save them. Betsie’s desire is to minister to the needs of the prisoners around her and share God’s love with them. Her joy and hope is her plans for how they can minister to the sufferers of the camps after the war, for the healing of both the victims, and the Germans who suffered because of the torture they gave to other people.

Betsie encourages Corrie to thank God in all circumstances, including for the flees in their sleeping mats. Later, they discover the guards do not come in and bother their worship services in the sleeping room, because the guards do not want to come near the fleas. Corrie says they have a preview of Heaven, because in these worship meetings, they have praising, songs, prayers, and Bible quoting in several different languages.

Corrie tells of terrors in the camp, but also miracles. One miracle was their bottle of vitamins, which didn’t run out, even when they shared it with many others, until the day they were given more vitamins.

Betsie’s dream did come true after the war—the homes to bring healing to the sufferers, Corrie’s sharing God’s overflowing love through horror. Betsie said, “No pit is too deep where he is not deeper. Jesus can turn loss into glory.”

Corrie continues to share her own struggles in her faith and God’s provision for her. At a church where she is sharing their story, she recognizes a guard from the concentration camp. He wants to shake her hand, to thank her for reminding him that Jesus had forgiven him. A war raged inside Corrie, but with God’s power, never her own, she was able to offer true kindness and forgiveness to this man.

So many bits from the story I’d like to share, the sorrows and the miracles. But I’ll stop and recommend to you that you check out this old book with the every-day newness of God’s love and grace.

Psalm 32:7: You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.