What Can We Count On?
I found a book I’d been wanting to read for years: The Five Silent Years of Corrie Ten Boom.
Corrie: Dutch watchmaker whose family hid Jews during WWII but were ratted on to the Gestapo. She was in her early fifties when she and her sister, Betsy, arrived at the dreaded Ravensbruck concentration camp. Both her father and sister died while incarcerated. Corrie was miraculously released after a year and went on to travel the world with the message:
There is no pit so deep where God’s love is not deeper still.
She told stories of God’s love and interventions during her imprisonment and encouraged people everywhere to let God love them in whatever circumstances they faced.
Corrie’s book, The Hiding Place, an international best seller, was made into a movie. She became a world figure, yet she was a humble soul who cared deeply for prisoners, the poor, and the forgotten. She wrote books, made films, and traveled internationally well into her 80’s.
She was a saint, in my book.
But in her late 80’s she had a stroke that silenced her forever. I heard that Corrie was bed-ridden in her final years and her caretaker wrote a book about it. I wanted to read the book, yet I dreaded it too. In the depths of my soul were questions…accusations:
- Why would God let a woman who had already suffered so much, die a slow death like that? If anyone deserved to go out in a blaze of glory—die suddenly while giving a speech or visiting a prison, with no pain, just here one minute and gone the next—it was Corrie.
- If Corrie Ten Boom spent her final years sick and suffering, what could I expect for myself?
- And the age-old question: Don’t my good deeds get me anything?
So, I picked up the book with trepidation. It revealed that Corrie had three major strokes over the course of her final five years, each one taking more from her than the last. In the final three years she was speechless and bed-ridden.
Yet Corrie wasn’t sad. The women who cared for her witnessed her spirit growing in peace and even happiness. At times her caretakers sensed another presence in Corrie’s room. An angel?
Her caregiver wrote, We still have you, Tante Corrie…and yet we do not have you. It is almost as if you are living in the foyer of heaven.
Corrie died peacefully on her 91st birthday.
I finished the book and laid it down. My questions weren’t answered, really. Who knows why things happen like they do? Who knows why some people die young and some live? Why some suffer and others don’t?
I’ve known hardship and I’ve known amazing provisions. Did I deserve the hard times or the good times? Yes and no.
I keep wanting to make life about deserving. Earning. Achieving. Getting on God’s good side in hopes of an easier life. Aughhhhh! It just doesn’t work that way.
I should know by now—Grace is the glue that holds this planet together. That holds me together.
In her imprisonment at Ravensbruck and in her imprisonment in her stroke-ridden body, Corrie’s life illustrated her theme:
“There is no pit so deep where God’s love is not deeper still.”
That’s it. What I have to count on.