“Worrying is carrying tomorrow’s load with today’s strength- carrying two days at once. It is moving into tomorrow ahead of time. Worrying doesn’t empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.”
“Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.”
“There is no pit so deep, that God’s love is not deeper still.”
These are the words of Corrie Ten Boom. Through reading about her life and listening to her teachings I have learned so much about the depths of healing that forgiveness can bring, the joy that comes with complete trust in who God says He is, and the fire to share the Gospel that should be in the life of one who knows Jesus as their savior. She is definitely a hero in my book. Corrie’s life was one marked by the goodness of Jesus and the kindness of a God that loves His children.
Corrie Ten Boom was born on April 15, 1892 in Amsterdam, Holland. The daughter of a watchmaker, she grew up in a strong Christian home and was a part of the Dutch Reformed Church. She was one of 4 Ten Boom children. Corrie loved Truth and began following Jesus at an early age and spent the rest of her life living out the Gospel. The Ten Booms lived in a Jewish section of Amsterdam and had deep relationships with many Jewish people. Little did they know that several years later, they would be arrested and facing some of the hardest times in the history of the world to protect these people they came to love.
Corrie began working with disabled children in her area as she entered her 20s. In her later 20s she lost her mother to a stroke. Before her mother’s death, the Ten Booms began fostering children, welcoming them into their home. Her father was well loved and respected in the community and eventually let Corrie run the business side of his watch shop. Corrie also began working with disabled children in her area taught them of the love of Jesus. The Ten Boom home became a haven for many and would continue to as the Nazis began invading the Netherlands.
The Ten Booms (namely, Father Ten Boom, Corrie and her sister Betsie-who both still lived at home) became a part of the Dutch underground, hiding refugees. They hid many Jews in their secret hiding place, behind Corrie’s closet as the Nazis invaded their town arresting and moving Jews and anyone that helped them into concentration camps. In 1944 after almost 2 years of hiding and helping Jews in their area, the Ten Boom family was arrested and sent a Dutch prisons and eventually transferred to Ravensbruck in Germany.
Corrie and Betsie, by the sovereign hand of God, were placed in the same camp and the same barracks. Through their time in the camp Corrie saw God’s faithfulness in many ways through protection, peace, and through miracles. Because of God’s protection, Corrie was able to sneak a Bible into the camp- the eyes of the guards were turned as she snuck past them and past the pat-down every prisoner received upon entrance of the camp. It was with this Bible that they began holding a Bible study in their barracks. This was extremely dangerous and if caught it could mean death. But God provided. There was an outbreak of fleas in their barracks and what many would see as gross and a nuisance, the women in that room saw as provision from a gracious God. Because of these fleas, the guards didn’t want to come into their room and they were able to worship and teach about God to the women in their room.
There are several stories from Corrie’s time in the concentration camp in her book, The Hiding Place. She went through many things we cannot even begin to imagine experiencing. She dealt first hand with seeing people killed and beaten, pain, and death of her loved ones. There were times when her heart grew very bitter towards the hands that were bringing all of this pain and strife, but all the while she had her sister Betsie to remind her what was to remain at the center- not bitterness and anger, but Jesus.
Right before Betsie died in the camp, she looked at her sister and said:
“Corrie, we must tell people how good God is. After the war we must go around the world telling people. No one will be able to say that they have suffered worse than us. We can tell them how wonderful God is, and how His love will fill our lives, if only we will give up our hatred and bitterness.”
Through the words of her sister, she was ministered to in that moment and many to come where she had to fight against anger and bitterness towards the Germans. She was released from the camp after a little over 10 months after her arrest. She later found out her release was due to a clerical error, but she knew it was God who had rescued her. A week after her release, all of the women her age in the camp were killed.
After Corrie’s release, she began traveling the world and doing just what her sister had pictured. She traveled telling people who Jesus is and shared about His redemption. Through her travels she came in contact with a few of the guards that had been a part of the Nazi regime and had to practice forgiveness that only Jesus can bring. The first encounter with one of her previous jailers proved to be difficult. Here is an excerpt from her book, The Hiding Place.
It was a church service in Munich that I saw him, the former S.S. man who had stood guard at the shower room door in the processing center at Ravensbruck. He was the first of our actual jailers that I had seen since that time. And suddenly it was all there – the roomful of mocking men, the heaps of clothing, Betsie’s pain-blanched face. He came up to me as the church was emptying, beaming and bowing. “How grateful I am for your message, Fraulein,” he said. “To think that, as you say, He has washed my sins away!”
His hand was thrust out to shake mine. And I, who had preached so often to the people in Bloemendaal the need to forgive, kept my hand at my side.
Even as the angry, vengeful thoughts boiled through me, I saw the sin of them. Jesus Christ had died for this man; was I going to ask for more? Lord Jesus, I prayed, forgive me and help me to forgive him.
I tried to smile, I struggled to raise my hand. I could not. I felt nothing, not the slightest spark of warmth or charity. And so again I breathed a silent prayer. Jesus, I cannot forgive him. Give me Your forgiveness.
She then took his hand the most incredible thing happened.
From my shoulder along my arm and through my hand a current seemed to pass from me to him, while into my heart sprang a love for this stranger that almost overwhelmed me. And so I discovered that it is not on our forgiveness any more than on our goodness that the world’s healing hinges, but on His. When He tells us to love our enemies, He gives, along with the command, the love itself.
She told her story; she told people how wonderful and good God is; she called people to let go of their bitterness and hatred and allow His love to fill their lives. She has story after story of God’s provision and deliverance in her life. She died on her 91st birthday due to a stroke. After long years of faithfulness to Jesus she met Him face to face.
Corrie has many books, her most popular being The Hiding Place. She also shares many of her life stories in her book, Tramp for the Lord, as well in her talks she gave all around the world. You can listen to some of those here.