Corrie ten Boom is best known through the book and movie The Hiding Place as a Dutch Christian who, along with her family, sheltered Jews from the Nazis in Holland during World War 2. Corrie and her sister, Betsie, were imprisoned in a German concentration camp where Betsie died of illness in December, 1944. At the end of that same month, due to a clerical error, Corrie was released.
After traveling by train to Groningen, just across the border from Germany in Holland, Corrie made her way to a Christian hospital called the Deaconess House. The hospital staff immediately began to tenderly care for her. Of her first experiences there, Corrie later wrote in her book Tramp for the Lord:
“Then I was eating. Potatoes, brussels sprouts, meat and gravy, and for dessert, pudding with currant juice and an apple! … How wonderfully good that food did taste. I shall remember that meal as long as I live.
“Then came a warm bath. They could hardly get me out of it. My poor sick skin, damaged by lice, seemed to grow softer the moment I slipped into that warm tub.
“Afterwards they dressed me. Several of the ex-leaders of the Netherlands Girls’ Clubs were among the nurses—girls that I had known before the war. They dressed me up as if I were a doll. One of them had lingerie, another shoes, another a dress and pins for my hair. I felt so happy that I laughed for sheer joy. How sweet they were to me.
“These young women had been trained in kindness. How opposite from the concentration camp where men had been trained in cruelty.
“I was then taken to a cozy bedroom so I could rest. How lovely was the combination of colors. I was starved for color. In the concentration camp everything was gray. But here in Holland the colors were vivid again. My eyes could not seem to get enough to satisfy them.
“And the bed! Delightfully soft and clean with thick woolen blankets. One of the little nurses brought an extra pillow and tucked it under my swollen feet. I wanted to laugh and cry at the same time.
“On a shelf was a row of books. Outside I heard the whistle of a boat on a canal and the merry sound of little children calling to one another as they skipped down the street. Far in the distance I heard the sound of a choir singing and then, oh, joy, the chimes of a carillon. I closed my eyes and tears wet my pillow. Only to those who have been in prison does freedom have such great meaning.
“Later that afternoon one of the nurses took me up to her room where for the first time in many months I heard the sound of a radio. Gunther Ramin was playing a Bach trio. The organ tones flowed about and enveloped me. I sat on the floor beside a chair and sobbed, unashamedly. It was too much joy. I had rarely cried during all those months of suffering. Now I could not control myself. My life had been given back as a gift. Harmony, beauty, colors, and music. … But right now, [God] was letting me enjoy the luxury of thanksgiving. I was drinking from a fountain I knew would never run dry—the fountain of praise.”
The thing that always strikes me about this incident is that most of the blessings Corrie reveled in on that occasion were simple, everyday blessings. They are the type of commonplace blessings we are so accustomed to we tend to take them for granted.
But they truly are significant blessings that we rightly should continue to be grateful for. As we tune into those ordinary blessings, we too will have the delight of drinking from the never-ending fountain of praise and thanksgiving. And our gracious God will receive a fuller measure of the gratitude and glory that is due Him for the countless blessings He continually showers on our lives.
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For other inspiring and instructive true stories from the life of Corrie ten Boom, you may want to check out two of my books, Women of Faith and Courage and Timeless Stories.
Copyright 2013 by Vance E. Christie