I have been wanting to write about the book, The Hiding Place, by Corrie Ten Boom since I first picked up this little book months ago. Life has been so busy!
If you follow this blog you know that we spent the months of February through May with my husband in hospital in very poor health. He was flown to Edmonton – many miles away from where we live for further care. It was a time of great upheaval and an awful lot of stress. Not long before this happened I chanced upon a book on peace at the library where I work. That book was so helpful to me as we waded through the health care system. But it was Corrie Ten Boom’s book that I found in the hospital that continues to illuminate my life. Bear with me as this will be a longer post than I usually write – but this book is so important that I felt moved to share.
The book is about Corrie Ten Boom and her family’s experiences through the Second World War. The family was involved in the underground, a network of people hiding Jews and providing for their needs. In the end Corrie, her sister, Betsy, and her father (along with many other relatives and friends) were arrested and eventually sent to a concentration camp. It is a book about courage and heroism, but most of all it is a book about faith in very dark times.
Yet, this little book tells the story in such an easy, but gripping, fashion it is hard to put down. I have read it through several times now and with each reading something else pops up for me – another lesson I had not fully digested in previous readings. Overall it is a book about hope in dire situations as Corrie moves from her childhood in Holland to the dank and disgusting conditions of a concentration camp.
Corrie and her sister remain together and are moved from one camp to another, with each being more horrific than the last. Eventually they end up in Germany in a place where it seems all is hopeless and despair is rampant. To say they are treated badly is a gross understatement, at the very least. Corrie cannot see how God can bring any good out of the circumstances they are subjected to: overcrowded conditions, little food, constant harassment and often torture and beatings, overworked to the point of death – it is very dark days indeed, with the wisps of smoke from the death chambers a grim reminder of their precarious existence. The particular barracks where they are forced to live is infested with fleas. And yet, it is under these conditions that Corrie learns one of the greatest lessons. Even fleas can be used to accomplish God’s will. Because of these parasites the guards are reluctant to enter this particular barrack, leaving the prisoners alone and allowing Corrie and her sister to minister to their fellow prisoners.
Eventually Corrie is released and goes on to minister to former prisoners as well as their tormentors and those who were instrumental in causing much suffering and death. It is an amazing story of one woman’s walk of faith and the many lessons she learns about the mystery we call God and about love and forgiveness.
In these days, that are often compared to pre-war Europe, Corrie Ten Boom’s story shows that even in the darkest of days God is not dead; that faith can overcome the very worst of circumstances; that love really can conquer all.