On this Thanksgiving Day, as we remember Corrie and Betsy Ten Boom giving thanks for the fleas in Barracks 28 of the Nazi concentration camp at Ravensbrück (see The Hiding Place), I would like to thank God for “letting me hunger” early in my life.
For many years before I was a Christian I hungered. My friends in college seemed to be fine, and even a little annoyed that I was always talking about death and wondering why we should be moral, or why we should do anything toward a career, if we were destined to eternal nothingness. One thing led to another and God led me to Francis Schaeffer’s commune in the Swiss Alps, where after years of being hungry I was filled.
I notice that the Lord used a similar technique on His people in the wilderness between Egypt and the Promised Land. Summing up the purpose of the entire 40-year delay in taking possession of their inheritance, Moses said:
“… he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna … that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone …” (Deuteronomy 8:3).
It took them a good 40 years to “know,” but it was worth the wait. No man, upon entering the Promised Land, begrudges the past years of hunger that led his path there. He is glad for the discomfort that brought him to comfort. And it is axiomatic that the person who has hungered appreciates his meal better than the person who has never experienced that grumbling in the tummy. So much of appreciation is in contrasts.
If you are in a season of hunger right now—whether for love, or marriage, or children, or friendship, or job fulfillment, or whatever it is people hunger for in this temporary wilderness we sojourn in—you might even try giving thanks today for the hunger, though it sounds radical. God is good all the time. He has purposes we do not foresee. Who would have conceived that the fleas in Barracks 28, though at first reluctantly listed in a litany of thanks by Corrie, would be the way God kept the prison guards away so that she and her sister and the other believers were free to gather around the Bible and worship?