Hello and welcome to the Leadership Done Right podcast, Episode 10 — Have You Experienced the Benefits of Gratitude?
Have you ever experienced the joy of gratitude? I would like to start this episode by relating the story of Corrie Ten Boom. She was a prisoner in the concentration camps in Nazi Germany. She was subjected to very harsh circumstances and conditions while she was in the camp. khouse.org relates the story as follows.
Thank You For The Fleas
In her book The Hiding Place, Corrie Ten Boom tells of a time she discovered that God was working even in the most horrific circumstances.
Corrie and her sister Betsie had been imprisoned by the Nazis for hiding Jews behind the wall of their Holland home, and Nazi prison conditions pretty well unbearable.
“Barracks 8 was in the quarantine compound. Next to us–perhaps as a deliberate warning to newcomers–were located the punishment barracks. From there, all day long and often into the night, came the sounds of hell itself. They were not the sounds of anger, or of any human emotion, but of a cruelty altogether detached: blows landing in regular rhythm, screams keeping pace. We would stand in our ten-deep ranks with our hands trembling at our sides, longing to jam them against our ears, to make the sounds stop.
“It grew harder and harder. Even within these four walls there was too much misery, too much seemingly pointless suffering. Every day something else failed to make sense, something else grew too heavy.”
Yet, in the midst of the suffering, the women prisoners around Corrie and Betsie found comfort in the little Bible studies they held in the barracks. Corrie writes they gathered around the Bible “like waifs clustered around a blazing fire…The blacker the night around us grew, the brighter and truer and more beautiful burned the Word of God.”
When they were moved to Barracks 28, Corrie was horrified by the fact that their reeking, straw-bed platforms swarmed with fleas. How could they live in such a place?
It was Betsie who discovered God’s answer:
“’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!”
“I stared at her; then around me at the dark, foul-aired room…”
They thanked God for the fact they were together. They thanked God they had a Bible. They even thanked God for the horrible crowds of prisoners, that more people would be able to hear God’s Word. And then, Betsie thanked God for the fleas.
“The fleas! This was too much. ‘Betsie, there’s no way even God can make me grateful for a flea.’
“‘”Give thanks in all circumstances,”‘ she quoted. ‘It doesn’t say, “in pleasant circumstances.” Fleas are part of this place where God has put us.’
“And so we stood between tiers of bunks and gave thanks for fleas. But this time I was sure Betsie was wrong.”
It turned out that Betsie was not wrong; the fleas were a nuisance, but a blessing after all. The women were able to have Bible studies in the barracks with a great deal of freedom, never bothered by supervisors coming in and harassing them. They finally discovered that it was the fleas that kept those supervisors out.
Through those fleas, God protected the women from abuse and harassment. Dozens of desperate women were free to hear the comforting, hope-giving Word of God. Through those fleas, God protected the women from much worse things and made sure they had their deepest, truest needs met.
What We Can Learn From Corrie Ten Boom
There are many lessons we can take away from this story and the life of Corrie Ten Boom. The lesson that I would like to focus on now is the benefits of gratitude in your heart. Gratitude is very powerful because it helps you to be humble and recognize the hand of God and others in your life.
7 Benefits of Gratitude
The website Psychology Today explains that there are the following seven benefits of gratitude:
- Gratitude opens the door to more relationships.
- 2014 study published in Emotion found that thanking a new acquaintance makes people more likely to seek an ongoing relationship.
- Gratitude improves physical health.
- Grateful people experience fewer aches and pains and report feeling healthier than other people. Grateful people also tend to take better care of their health.
- Gratitude improves psychological health.
- Gratitude reduces a multitude of toxic emotions.
- Gratitude enhances empathy and reduces aggression.
- Grateful people are more likely to behave in a prosocial manner, even when others behave less kindly.
- Grateful people sleep better.
- Writing in a gratitude journal improves sleep. Spending just 15 minutes writing grateful sentiments before bed may help you sleep better and longer.
- Gratitude improves self-esteem.
- Studies have shown that gratitude reduces social comparisons.
- Gratitude increases mental strength.
- Research has shown that gratitude not only reduces stress, but it may play a major role in overcoming trauma.
When you have a spirit of gratitude, you realize that you are not in this life alone. Others are actively working to help you and make your life better. What amazing benefits of gratitude!
So What Am I Grateful For?
- Grateful for the podcast listeners
- Grateful for my family – parents, wife, children, siblings
- Grateful to leaders that have taught me along the way
- Grateful to God for all the blessings I have been given
- Grateful for friends, and other good people in my life
There are many benefits of gratitude. Having gratitude generates strength and power to do more good in the world. I challenge you to have more gratitude!
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