The Value of What?

The Value of What?

Pop quiz!  Quickly jot down ten things in nature you are thankful for.  I’m guessing rainbows, puppies and butterflies may be in there somewhere?  Anyone write down lice or fleas?  No???!!  Since October 31, 2019, as part of my devo time, every morning I have written down ten things I’m thankful for.  If I were to glance back through the 1,980 items, I’m pretty sure there would be neither lice nor fleas mentioned.


In 2004, our family had a surprise lice visit.  My husband had just accepted a job transfer and our family moved to Minnesota.  Within days of moving into our new home, one of our children came home from school with the dreaded little bugs jumping around her head.  Still thinking about it makes me cringe and itch my head.  We didn’t have a washer and dryer in our new home yet, so I hauled all the bedding, clothing and stuffed animals to the laundry mat.  Everyone in the family had their hair treated.  This was all in the midst of the chaos of unpacking and the start of a new school year.  It was an interesting way to kick off our new life in a new state.  Had I been asked at the time if I appreciated lice, I wouldn’t have hesitated to say absolutely not- it added a bit of stress to our lives.  However, I believe God did have a reason for the lice, beyond my understanding.  Those little pests caused me to feel quite humble – because it felt like it was something I couldn’t cope with or control.  It’s funny how adversity brings us to our knees.



During the summer of 2017, my husband and I traveled with friends to Amsterdam.  A highlight of the trip was a guided tour through Corrie ten Boom’s home in Haarlem.  Her incredible story of faith, obedience and forgiveness during the Holocaust was recorded in her biography, The Hiding Place.  Seeing every room of the little house made the reality of the events in her book very real.  Corrie and her sister Betsie, daughters of a watchman, worked with their father to help many Jews escape the Nazis from the Holocaust during World War ll by hiding them in their home. They were a strong Christian family who believed that God wanted them to protect Jews.  The entire family was eventually caught and arrested.  The sisters were incarcerated in Ravensbruck concentration camp, where Betsie died at age 59.    

There was a particular flea situation in the book that caused me to have a new perspective on fleas and other “little” things in life that cause distress.  The following is a paraphrased excerpt from the book.  In their barracks, there were a series of platforms stacked three levels high and packed in so tight the women were like human sardines.  Rancid straw placed on top of the platforms served as mattresses.  Not exactly sanitary conditions.  At one point Corrie became exasperated as she was being bitten by fleas.  “Fleas”, she cried.  “Betsie, the place is swarming with them…Betsie, how can we live in such a place?”  And then Betsie did something incredible- she began to pray.  “Show us.  Show us how….Corrie!  He has given us the answer, as He always does!”  In a smuggled, hidden Bible, Betsie asked Corrie to read a passage they had read together earlier that morning.  1 Thessalonians 5:14-18:  “Comfort the frightened, help the weak, be patient with everyone.  See that none of you repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good for one another and to all.  Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus.”  Betsie had a revelation- to give thanks in all circumstances.  She and Corrie thought of every thing in the barracks that they could be thankful for.  It all sounded great until Betsie thanked God for the fleas.  Corrie went along with this even though she was sure Betsie was wrong.  As time went on, Corrie came to realize that Betsie was, in fact, correct.  There was a purpose for the fleas.  The sisters discovered that the guards were very aware of the infestation and refused to enter the platforms, leaving the Bible undetected, and ultimately protecting the women who were housed there from the abuse of the guards.


As I reflect on the flea affliction, our lice situation, as well as other times in my life that I have had to endure  pain and hardship, I can see that God had a purpose for it.  Beyond what I could see at the time.  And I have always had a choice.  I could choose to become bitter and resentful.  Or I could choose to humble myself and turn to God, and be thankful in all circumstances.


Looking back, I can see numerous blessings that occurred during the two years that we lived in Minnesota, despite the rough patch at the beginning.  When the unwelcome pests invaded our new home, I immediately drew closer to God.  I turned to Him at a time when I could have easily gotten caught up with the “we are in a new place and have to start over with everything” phase.  Our spiritual lives in Minnesota grew immensely and we became closer as a family.  It was like God had hit a re-set button.  It was the first time in our married life we found a church that fit biblically and challenged us to work out our faith.  All of the obligations that had piled up in New York fell away when we moved to Minnesota.  We had redeemed time with our children and they thrived.  Bottom line, I am thankful for the lice as this may have been the pivotal moment when I turned toward God.  Maybe lice will be #1,981 in my gratitude list tomorrow morning…


I pray that our hearts and lips overflow with gratitude as we live life out in this unusual time.  Even when faced with discouraging circumstances, we all can turn to the Lord, who continues to be an ever present help in time of need.  As we focus on God’s blessings, may our hearts be lightened so that we can become more able to serve God, our families and our communities and ultimately spread His light to a world in need.
-Rebekah Zehr