Let us continually offer God a sacrifice of praise. (Hebrews 13:15)
On February 28, 1944, a young Dutch woman named Corrie ten Boom and her family were arrested and sent to concentration camps for running a safe house for Jews during the Nazi occupation of Holland. In the midst of great suffering, Corrie’s sister, Betsie, reminded her that the Scriptures called them to thank God in everything. So they did. They even thanked God for the infestation of fleas in the barracks. As they persisted in giving thanks, they noticed that the guards left them alone. They were able to hold Bible studies and led many fellow prisoners to Christ. They later found out that the guards stayed away because of the fleas!
On one level, this story shows that God works through all things. But on another level, it shows how praising the Lord does something deeper in us. It helps us focus on the Lord so that we can experience his life and freedom more deeply. As Corrie and Betsie praised God, they paid less attention to their hardships and more attention to the other prisoners and their need for Jesus.
Praising God helps us find that place of “restful waters” that refresh and restore us (Psalm 23:2). As we offer God our praise and thanks, we become more aware of his greatness. As a result, difficulties no longer loom as large. Recalling God’s greatness opens us up to his wisdom and direction. It helps us to receive his love, which casts out all fear. It fills us with courage and peace.
In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus told the disciples to “come away … and rest a while” (Mark 6:31). Praising and thanking God is one way we can do just that. We don’t need to be behind closed doors to do it! We can praise him sitting in the car, on an elevator, or in the middle of a lunch break. Even while talking to a neighbor, we can lift our hearts to Jesus and thank him for who he is and what he has done for us. As Corrie and Betsie ten Boom discovered, the more we praise God, the more he sustains us—no matter how many “fleas” we see!
“Father, you are both mighty and humble. Thank you for your love and mercy. I praise you for holding me in the palm of your hand.”