By Dianne Sivulka
Last week our virtual book club finished The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom.
This year our book club is "traveling" the world to meet inspiring women who overcame extreme hardship and showed tremendous courage. From Guatemala to Holland to Ohio to Pakistan, we are learning their inspiring stories and the power behind their tenacity.
The Hiding Place is a true story about a Dutch family of watchmakers who helped save hundreds of Jews during World War II. They built a secret room in their house to hide people fleeing the Nazis. Eventually, they were caught and arrested and imprisoned in a series of concentration camps. Corrie and her family found themselves in the darkest place of their lives. And yet, God's presence never left them. This inspiring story of courage and forgiveness has been, and remains, one of my favorite books of all time.
Thankfulness in all circumstances is one of the themes woven throughout this book. Even amid horrendous circumstances, Corrie and her sister could still find things to be thankful for. At one point in the book, life in the barracks at Ravensbruck Concentration Camp had become completely unbearable. It didn't seem that there was anything hopeful about their situation. Then Corrie's sister, Betsie, reminded her that even the fleas were cause for gratitude because they kept the soldiers out of their barracks. I found this both incredible and convicting.
One of the things our book club discussed was how relatable Corrie is throughout the story to anyone who reads it. Sure, we will never experience the kind of hardship or impossible decisions she was faced with. And yet, somehow she draws the reader into the experience in a way that both encourages and challenges.
The themes presented throughout the book are things we will all relate to at one point or another in our lives:
Getting along with less
Security amid insecurity
Dealing with difficult people
What to do when evil wins
Loving the marginalized well is something else that was incredibly inspiring about Corrie and her family. They wouldn't accept the lie that certain members of their society were less than others. They weren't willing to ignore the need right in front of them. They didn't live with the perspective that there is an us and them. Instead, they gave of themselves to meet the needs of people around them.
At one point in the book, Corrie's family is faced with a difficult decision. A Jewish baby needs a hiding place, and no one wants to risk the child crying when silence is necessary for survival. Corrie's father states, "You say we could lose our lives for this child. I would consider that the greatest honor that could come to my family." Not only did they risk their own lives to save Jews, but Corrie also provided a safe and nurturing place for people with disabilities. This work continued even beyond the war. Corrie later wrote a small booklet on her work with the disabled, Common Sense Not Needed. She again shares her conviction that all life is valueable.
Each time I read The Hiding Place, I feel like I gain a new appreciation for how God works in our lives if we allow Him. Corrie and her family found their strength in the Lord. He walked with them through a raging storm. He brought joy to their lives even in their darkest hours. He gave them a sense of purpose and heavenly perspective. Perhaps the most difficult of all, He miraculously gave them the strength to forgive.
If you ever find yourself in Harlem, Holland (located just 30 minutes from Amsterdam), stop by and visit the Corrie ten Boom Museum.
And of course, read The Hiding Place before you go!
Next up… Grandma Gatewood's Walk.
All are welcome!
Register for this FREE virtual book club here.
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