Today’s Truth

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:18 NIV).


Friend to Friend

While in Ravensbrück, Corrie ten Boom and her sister Betsy dealt with appalling conditions. The women’s labor camp dorms were crammed into three high trough-like sleeping barracks with rancid hay as their bed.

The cramped conditions and lack of basic sanitation led to lice and a massive infestation of fleas. Corrie wondered how they could endure such a dreadful place.

Betsy prayed and told her sister they must “give thanks in all circumstances.”

Corrie wondered how she could ever be thankful for the lice and the fleas.

Several weeks later, one of the supervisors was called into their barracks to view something Betsy was working on. The supervisor refused because the place was crawling with fleas.

Betsy then reminded her sister that it was the fleas that had allowed them so much freedom to form a bond with and pray and teach about Jesus to their entire barrack with little interference from their captors. 

Neither the supervisors nor guards wanted to be in their barracks because of the lice and the fleas. Corrie then realized how she could be thankful even for a flea.

Every time I read this part of the true story “The Hiding Place,” I’m so humbled by the raw and real way God used these amazing, brave sisters in such a horrendous situation. And yes, He even used the fleas.

When the Apostle Paul instructed us to be thankful in all circumstances, he really did mean all. The good, the bad, and the ugly situations we face in life can absolutely impact our faith. When life is good, we decide we are good – and if we are honest, we decide God is good. But when the trials and storms knock us to our knees, our first response is often an accusation hidden in the question, “Where are You, God?”

I know life can be hard. Some of you are in so much pain that it is hard to breathe. But God knows where you are and what you are going through – and you really can trust Him. The apostle Paul had a firm grip on this truth.

“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want” (Philippians 4:11b-12 NIV).

The word “content” can best be defined as “contained.” Don’t miss this truth! Paul had trained himself to focus on his inner resources, the resources his heart contained rather than the outward circumstances of life. He chose to be grateful. He chose to praise God. Period. 

We hear his determination in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NIV) when he says, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

This old poem captures Paul’s truth well:

“I rejoice in knowing that

 There is no oil without squeezing the olives,

 No wine without pressing the grapes,

 No fragrance without crushing the flowers

 And no real joy without sorrow.”

 (Author unknown)

An attitude of gratitude not only brings contentment but also encourages perseverance and produces strength. And gratitude is a choice – not a feeling. God entrusts trials to us, giving us the opportunity to choose gratitude.


Let’s Pray

Father, I come to You, confessing that I tend to have a heart that is filled with whining and complaining instead of gratitude. Please forgive me. Help me learn to see Your hand at work in my life. I want to trust You even when I don’t understand my circumstances. Right now, I choose to praise You, Lord.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.


Let’s Keep in Touch

June 30, 2023, Girlfriends in God is coming to a close. Thank you for linking arms with us in ministry for the past 17 years. We still want to share life with you! Click here to continue receiving devotions from Sharon Jaynes on Tuesdays. Click here to continue receiving devotions from Mary Southerland on Wednesdays. Click here to continue receiving devotions from Gwen Smith on Thursdays.


Now It’s Your Turn

What circumstance in your life is causing you stress and pain? Can you choose to be thankful for the pain and praise God?

We are all facing some kind of challenge today. Let’s choose to be grateful for the opportunity to trust God and grow in our faith.


More from the Girlfriends 

To develop the holy habit of giving thanks, you must make the choice to trust God fully for every circumstance in your life. Need help? Join Mary in a 10-Day Trust Adventure that will help you learn how to walk by faith. 



© 2023 by Mary Southerland. All rights reserved. 

6 Responses to “Thankful for the Fleas”

  1. Sheila says:

    Morning Mary
    This devotion has helped me to get on track this morning. I don’t always put all my trust in God. It seems the circumstances gets worse some days and I’m not always thankful for my circumstances. . But I do know that God is the one that can turn my situation around. And I know there are so many people praying for my situation. So today I pray I can be thankful instead of spending all my time whining and complaining.

  2. Susan says:

    Sheila, I’m thanking God that this is a timely devotion for you.I’m sorry for whatever it is that’s causing you pain and am I just prayed that you would continue trusting in the One who keeps you trusting. Even though I’m not currently walking through a valley, just like everyone else, I’ve been there countless times before and will walk through them many more times in the future so I need to remember this Truth as well. I’ve been studying Job and God is showing me the importance of praise, worship, and gratitude in the midst of painful circumstances. After losing everything, Job shaved his head, tore his robe, and fell to the ground and worshipped.

  3. Carol says:

    Blessings to you Mary,
    Thankful for your writing this am. So many around us, as believers, that feel negative pressures from the evil one.
    Just last night at my Bible study, I could see and hear the weighty concerns of each person.
    We are all waiting on the Lord, for something; but once again Paul reminds us of the “joy” in the suffering.
    I just now, heard the verse, “I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in His Word I put my hope.” Ps. 130:5.
    Paul, also, reminds us in Colossians that Hope is the driver of Faith; without that, we will find life harder than what God wants for us to experience. I’m going to make an effort to see and find joy today!

  4. Sheila says:

    I know God heats our cries! I have a 33 year old son with years of drug addiction. He has moved back home 2 years ago. The family had suspected he had issues but didn’t realize what exactly it was until he has moved back home. Unless you have lived this I can’t begin to describe how it has effected the whole family. I have the highest of hopes each morning that this will be the day that he chooses another path. I know if he could see himself he would be so embarrassed and ashamed of himself and what he has done to his family. I’m crying out for him to be coved in prayer and be healed from this awful path he has chosen. I am so thankful for all the people that are praying for him and his family as well.

  5. Sandy D says:

    Thank you Sheila for the reminder. As my husband’s care giver due to Parkinson’s is hard some times to be thankful for such a horrible disease that’s been stripping my husband of 35 years. It’s been hard and lonely at times. We also, two years ago moved to another state and just recently (finally) found a home church. We are trying to connect with people but how I miss my old friends. I also would love to get involved in the worship team but because of my husband’s condition it’s hard for him to be there for early service. We attend the last one which is at 11:30 for this one works better for him. I’ve been praying and have so many others praying for him, for healing but sometimes I wonder. I know my ministry right now is to care for him. I know that God is able to change things for us, but in the meantime pray for me. I want to see the beauty in all this. I know he is for me and not against me. He is “El Roi” and He sees me.

  6. Bev Schneider says:

    Hi there Mary – and also Sharon and Gwen,
    Thank you for your ministry over these past 17 years.
    Thank you especially Mary for the memory of Corrie Ten Boom today. I love reading her story, despite the hardships,trials and persecution they suffered. What I really love is Corrie and Betsy’s ways of finding blessings in the most trying of circumstances – always have to smile about the fleas. At the same time, it makes me reflect on my own life and how easy it is to grumble instead of gratify!
    The saddest thing about your email today is the GiG is ending! GiG has been a wonderful companion over the years, both ‘corporately’ and you girlfriends individually.
    Praying God’s grace and blessings for each one of you and your Gospel-sahring ministries.
    With love and gratitude,

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"We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well…" 1 Thessalonians 2:8