IVP - Strangely Dim - A Victorious God Active in Us

March 17, 2010

A Victorious God Active in Us

March 17 traditionally is a celebration of St. Patrick, patron saint of Ireland. But St. Patrick's Day all too often descends into self-indulgent caricature; we wear green, therefore we are Irish, therefore we drink ourselves ridiculous. Meanwhile, March is both Women's History Month and the heart of Lent. So, with no disrespect to Patrick, today editorial intern and guest-blogger Christina Jasko will celebrate the legacy of Corrie Ten Boom, who like Patrick lived a life worth emulating far more than the silliness typically perpetrated on March 17. 

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For most of her life, Corrie ten Boom was more or less a nobody. Until she was about fifty, she led a quiet life in the Netherlands, living with her family and working at the family watch-making business. Her commitment to God was, however, evident in her devout lifestyle and her ministry to children and the disabled in her spare time.

When the Nazis invaded the Netherlands, things took a turn for the dramatic. Corrie and her family became active in the Dutch Underground and had a small secret room constructed in their house so that they could hide Jews there. They succeeded in helping many people, but eventually the family was found out and sent to prison. Corrie spent four months in solitary confinement, reading a copy of the New Testament over and over and learning to follow Jesus even through this suffering.

Eventually, she and her sister Betsie were transferred to a concentration camp, ending up in Ravensbruck, where the conditions were horrible (even for a concentration camp). While fending off starvation, illness, vermin and the real possibility of death, Corrie and Betsie still found the strength to pray for their fellow prisoners, read Scripture to them and share what little they had. All along the way they witnessed small miracles of provision and protection.

Betsie told Corrie, "We must tell people how good God is. After the war we must go around the world telling people. No one will be able to say that they have suffered worse than us. We can tell them how wonderful God is, and how His love will fill our lives, if only we will give up our hatred and bitterness." Whenever my faith is having a bad day, that sentiment from Betsie helps me believe in God--believe not just in the concept of deity (that's easy) but in the radical idea of a powerful, self-sacrificing God working redemption into human history. It is amazing to me then that anyone could go straight into the jaws of the Holocaust--into what seems like such irredeemable evil--and come out singing about God's goodness. It's so impossible that it screams of the supernatural.

Betsie died in the camp. Not long after that Corrie was released, due to a clerical error that narrowly prevented her execution. She dedicated herself to doing exactly what Betsie had said. In contrast to the quietly devout first half of her life, the second half was spent engaged in a worldwide ministry of sharing the message of the gospel and the need for forgiveness. She became, in fact, such a famous exemplar that I fear we might miss the point of her life.

It's easy to take incredible Christians like Corrie ten Boom and turn them into saints, but to do so diminishes their witness. Her story does mean, as I said, that there's a good God active in our world, and that's a powerful truth. But it's more than that: there is a victorious God active in us. If an ordinary Dutch spinster, faithfully serving God while making watches, could end up overcoming so much through the power of God, then anyone with the same God has the same hope.

Posted by Dave Zimmerman at March 17, 2010 9:37 AM Bookmark and Share

Comments

Ive heard the name of Corrie Ten Boom a few times but never knew who she was. (If I had to guess, I would have said she was a worker in the Underground Railroad...) Im glad someone finally told me. Thanks for sharing that story and perspective that emphasizes her as a woman. Young women in the church could benefit from hearing examples of women like her, don't you think?

Comment by: Brett at March 17, 2010 2:46 PM

"If an ordinary Dutch spinster, faithfully serving God while making watches, could end up overcoming so much through the power of God, then anyone with the same God has the same hope."
Yayy! This is truth and it makes me happy! The power to overcome is not only with us but lives in us! :-)

Comment by: Quinn at March 20, 2010 12:34 AM

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Behind the Strangeness

Lisa Rieck is a reader and writer who likes to discuss good ideas over hot drinks and gets inspired by the sky. She takes in all kinds of good ideas as a proofreader for InterVarsity Press.

Rebecca Larson is a writer/designer/creative type who has infiltrated IVP's web department, where she writes and edits online content. She enjoys a good pun and loves the smell of freshly printed books.

David A. Zimmerman is an editor for Likewise Books and a columnist for Burnside Writers Collective. He's written three books, most recently The Parable of the Unexpected Guest. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/unexpguest. Find his personal blog at loud-time.com.

Suanne Camfield is a publicist for InterVarsity Press and a freelance writer. She floats ungracefully between work, parenting and writing, and (much to her dismay) finds it impossible to read on a treadmill. She is a member of the Redbud Writers Guild and blogs at The Rough Cut.

Likewise Books from InterVarsity Press explore a thoughtful, active faith lived out in real time in the midst of an emerging culture.

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