4 Things Corrie ten Boom Taught Me about Suffering

Corrie ten Boom against a designed light blue background

One of my required courses in college was titled “Teaching Elementary Math.” I enjoy math and expected the class to be a piece of cake.

This assumption quickly proved to be incorrect.

During one of these arduous classes, my professor leaned over my desk and gave me these life-giving words, “Miss MacAvoy, you will make a wonderful teacher because you know what it’s like to struggle.”

My professor knew what he was talking about. The people I most learn from aren’t the ones who seem to be naturals at everything, but those who struggle for every inch of growth.

This is why I keep coming back to the testimonies of Betsie and Corrie ten Boom in The Hiding Place.

Each time I read The Hiding Place (three times now), I’m freshly encouraged by the way they obeyed through struggle. Sometimes when I read biographies, I come away feeling discouraged because there’s no way I could ever respond as they did!

But in The Hiding Place, Corrie is so honest about her struggle to follow the Lord (contrasted with her sister Betsie’s seemingly natural obedience) that it encourages my heart in my own struggles of obedience. Here are four ways I want to emulate the testimony of Betsie and Corrie ten Boom.

1. Be thankful

They practiced giving thanks to God in all things in the middle of terrible situations. For example, Corrie violently protested when Betsie gave thanks to God for the fleas infesting their room at the concentration camp. But later, Corrie also thanked God for them when she saw the flea infestation kept the guards away from their room, allowing them to host a daily Bible reading time with other prisoners.

2. Be dependent

Corrie recognized the intense difficulty of what she faced, but she kept giving her struggles to God. Corrie’s father taught her to give things that were “too heavy for her” to her heavenly Father. Throughout the book, there are many times when Corrie recounts suffering and comes to God with this very prayer, “Lord, this is too heavy for me. I need you to carry this.” I love the honesty of Corrie’s prayer and the regularity with which she prays it.

3. Be loyal

When Betsie was ridiculed and mistreated by a guard, Corrie flew at the guard in a fit of anger, but Betsie held her back. As Corrie stared at her sister’s fresh, bloody wound, Betsie admonished, “Don’t look at it, Corrie. Look at Jesus.” My heart is stirred by the fierce loyalty between the sisters, but even more moved by their fervent love for their Lord in the midst of suffering.

4. Be trusting

During the sisters’ imprisonment, they were amazed at the seemingly never-ending supply of vitamin drops that kept coming out of a small bottle. On one occasion, Corrie was surmising that perhaps the drops expanded once they reached the air so it just seemed like they were never-ending. Betsie responded, “Don’t try too hard to explain it, Corrie. Just accept it from a Father who loves you!” I had to laugh at Corrie’s practicality because it so resembles my thinking, but Betsie’s response brought me to tears and made me long for a faith that simply trusts.

I am so thankful for the way these women modeled what it means to “run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross” (Heb 12:1–2).

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Written by
Christa Threlfall

Christa Threlfall is a pastor’s wife, mother of four, and the author of Come to Jesus. She enjoys reading, filling her home with plants, and exploring New Hampshire. You can follow her on Instagram and sign up for her monthly letter.

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Written by Christa Threlfall
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