The secret to greater abundance and lasting happiness isn’t hidden. The answer can be found easily enough in many places. For instance, it is illustrated in the book The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom. Corrie and her sister Betsie find themselves in a concentration camp during World War II with unimaginable conditions. Just when it seems to Corrie that things couldn’t get any worse, she discovers that the mattresses which they are to share with multitudes of other women are swarming with fleas. In her despair she cries out to her sister, “Betsie, how can we live in such a place!”
The details of the horror they experienced held my sympathy, and indeed I have felt such despair at times in my life. So, why would I choose this story to teach the principle of happiness and abundance? Because of Betsie’s reply. It is amazing!
“Corrie!” she said excitedly. ”He’s given us the answer! Before we asked, as He always does! In the Bible this morning. Where was it? Read that part again!”
I glanced down the long dim aisle to make sure no guard was in sight, then drew the Bible from its pouch. ”It was in First Thessalonians,” I said. We were on our third complete reading of the New Testament since leaving Scheveningen. In the feeble light I turned the pages. ”Here it is. ‘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 to one another and to all….’ ” It seemed written expressly to Ravensbruck.
“Go on,” said Betsie. “That wasn’t all.”
“Oh yes: ‘…to one another and to all. Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus–”
“That’s it, Corrie! That’s His answer. ’Give thanks in all circumstances!’ That’s what we can do. We can start right now to thank God for every single thing about this new barracks!”
What?! Are you kidding me? How could anyone be grateful for living in a concentration camp in such miserable circumstances? I haven’t even begun to explain the horrors they experienced. (You will have to read the book if you want the details.)
It is possible to be grateful in miserable circumstances. Betsie understood and successfully applied the secret. As a result, her experience was abundance and joy.
Many times in my life I have felt down, and recognizing and counting my blessings has helped me get out of the place of misery. However, I usually only applied half of the truth of gratitude. I only counted the good blessings, not the hard ones; therefore, the bad feelings always returned, as well as the experience causing the bad feelings. It was an endless cycle! But how can I be grateful for hard things, you might ask, wouldn’t that be lying to myself and to God? The answer is NO! 2 suggestions can help us to honestly be grateful for challenges.
- Realize that EVERYTHING can work for our good. We are in this mortal experience to learn certain lessons, and every challenge, crisis, or trial can be overcome and learned from if we allow the experience to change our hearts.
- If that doesn’t work, PRAY to be filled with gratitude. Sometimes, no matter how much we try to be grateful for a challenge, the feeling of gratitude just isn’t there. It takes several experiences of overcoming to gain the knowledge that indeed challenges are for our good. Just the act of being willing to be grateful allows our hearts to be changed.
GRATITUDE, especially through hard times, is the key to abundance and lasting happiness. Abundance and happiness are states of being, not conditions. When we “give thanks in all circumstances” our hearts are in a place of abundance and happiness. We can have all of the physical things and best circumstances a person can have, and still feel lack and unhappy. But, as our hearts are changed, we start to see that happiness and abundance were always around us. The physical manifestations follow the spiritual. In other words, we must change the inside first (the heart, spirit, mind) and then the outside things (body, money, relationships,) naturally follow.