Monday, April 11, 2016

Reading "The Hiding Place"

One of the things about teaching English is that you have to read all of the books you assign to your students. And when I'm in the first year of teaching four different levels of English (6th, 7th, and 8th grade at my school, and my 10th grade daughter and a couple of her friends at home), that means I have to do a lot of reading to keep up.

My daughter and her friends were assigned – by me – the autobiography The Hiding Place to read a couple months ago. If you're not familiar with Corrie ten Boom or her story, you really must read this. She and her Dutch family were sent to a concentration camp (where her father and sister died) because they hid Jews from the Nazis in a secret room in their home, along with a great deal of other dangerous work they did for the Underground in the Netherlands.

I mainly chose this book for the kids because I wanted them to read at least one biography/autobiography this year, and they covered the Holocaust in history that month, so it seemed appropriate. (Yes, my daughter also read Night by Elie Weisel, in case you literature buffs are wondering. She wrote a fascinating essay comparing the two stories: how Elie lost his faith in the camps while Corrie found hers.) And I constantly heard great things about Corrie ten Boom and her book when I was a child.

The hidden room in the ten Boom house.
So, of course, I had to read it first. And now I understand what the fuss was about.

Oh, my gosh, this book.

I would read one chapter and then have to stop and think and pray. So many things God had to teach me through the reading of this book.

For example, I was struck by the character of Betsie, the author's sister. She was almost too good to be true. In fact, my daughter mentioned that she thought it was a good thing Corrie wrote the book and not Betsie because the reader could relate more to Corrie and her struggles and doubts. Betsie's faith was so rock solid. Her compassion, even for her enemies, was unfathomable. Upon hearing the name of the man who betrayed them to the authorities, she said, "I pray for him whenever his name comes to my mind. How dreadfully he must be suffering!"

Oh, Lord, give me Your love like that, to desire the best for others despite what they've done to me.

I will probably never forget the story of Betsie leading Corrie to thank God for the fleas in their new barracks – because scripture told them to give thanks in all things. And of course, not until much later do they find out that the fleas kept the guards from coming into their barracks, which allowed them to hold Bible studies in there, among other things. A valid reason to be thankful for them.

Lord, give me that kind of faith, that everything in my life is ordained by You and deserving of my gratitude.

While I read, I kept thinking, I could never do this. I could never be this strong or this brave. I could never put myself on the line like this. But then I read how, at the end, when she was released from the concentration camp, Corrie tried to go on working for the Underground and couldn't. She was seized with fear on her first "mission." That's when she realized that the only reason she and her family had been able to do what they had done was because God had empowered them with the strength and courage to do it. Now, He had different work for her, and so the power for this particular work was not there anymore.

Lord, help me always remember that I don't have to fear whatever trials my future may hold, because You are already empowering me to face them when the time comes. Fresh manna for each day . . . with none to save for tomorrow.

I really need to read more biographies. I never seem to put them down as the same person I was when I picked them up.


Ona Marae said...

Awesome book and even better blog entry. So glad you choose to read this book right now.

Much love, Sherrill

Angie Thier said...

I have always wanted to read it. Thanks for the extra motivation.

Ligni said...

Gwen, I've read this book twice, once as a teenager and again a couple years ago when Kev read it for high school. There are some things I still can't wrap my head around. I thank God because he empowers us to deal with the situations we all face. He is in total control.