Summary: Habakkuk decides that even though the judgment of God is coming upon his nation he will not turn away from placing his absolute trust in Almighty God.
“What Will You Do In The Face Of Fear?”
Corrie Ten Boom was born in 1892 into a loving, Christian family in the Netherlands. Corrie was living with her older sister and her father in Haarlem when Holland surrendered to the Nazis. She was 48, unmarried, and worked as a watchmaker in the shop that her grandfather had started in 1837. Her family was deeply committed to the Lord and participated in the Dutch Reformed Church. Her father was a kind man who was friends with half of the city of Haarlem. Her mother had been known for her kindness to others before her death from a stroke.
Corrie’s family was involved with her church’s effort to give temporary shelter to her Jewish neighbors who were being driven out of their homes. She found places for them to stay in the Dutch countryside. Soon the word spread, and more and more people came to her home for shelter. As quickly as she would find places for them, more would arrive. She had a false wall constructed in her bedroom that led into a hiding place for the Jewish people who were being hunted by the Nazis.
On February 28, 1944, a man came into their shop and asked Corrie to help him. He said that he and his wife had been hiding Jews and that she had been arrested. He needed six hundred gilders to bribe a policeman for her freedom. Corrie promised to help. She found out later that he was a quisling, an informant that had worked with the Nazis from the first day of the occupation. He turned Corrie’s family in to the Gestapo. Later that day, her home was raided, and Corrie and her family were arrested.
Corrie’s father died of an illness within 10 days of being arrested, but Corrie and her older sister Betsie remained in a series of prisons and concentration camps, first in Holland and later in Germany. Although for many people, the concentration camp would have been the end of their work, for Corrie and Betsie the months they spent in Ravensbruck became "their finest hour."
Corrie’s description of her “finest hour” might lead some to believe that she was voted President of the concentration camp or elected homecoming queen of Ravensbruck. The truth of the matter is that Corrie’s finest hour was filled with constant battles with fear of the unknown.
When Corrie Ten Boom and her sister Betsy first arrived at the German concentration camp, they were ordered to strip naked and pass before the watching eyes of German soldiers. These godly women, raised in a devout Christian home where purity and chastity were virtues, were horrified at the experience. Not only were they enduring incredible humiliation, they also did not know whether they would be allowed to live or be executed. There was the terror of the unknown before them and they feared for their lives because they knew they were considered the enemy.
How did they keep from coming undone in their experience? Were they able to keep “the peace that surpasses all understanding” as they stood before the guards filled with curiosity, anger, and blatant lust? You better believe they did. Corrie tells the story of how her sister, Betsy, turned to her and said that they were going to rejoice in the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings because Jesus had been stripped naked and exposed to the eyes of men at Calvary.
Time and time again, through all kinds of humiliating and degrading experiences, through watching countless people killed, and with the smell of death all around them they rejoiced through their fear. They didn’t rejoice because there was something to rejoice about, but because there was Someone in whom they could rejoice. Their fear and doubt were conquered by a deep faith that enabled them to rejoice – no matter what their circumstances or their future.
Because of the strength they drew from keeping their eyes on Christ, who had suffered so willingly for them, Corrie and Betsie were able to keep their eyes off of themselves and minister hope and faith to those around them. Corrie describes a typical evening in which they would use their smuggled Bible to hold worship services:
At first Betsie and I called these meetings with great timidity. But as night after night went by and no guard ever came near us, we grew bolder. So many now wanted to join us that we held a second service after evening roll call. These were services like no others, these times in Barracks 28. A single meeting night might include a recital of the Magnificat in Latin by a group of Roman Catholics, a whispered hymn by some Lutherans, and a chant by Easter Orthodox women. With each moment the crowd around us would swell, packing the nearby platforms, hanging over the edges, until the high structures groaned and swayed. At last either Betsie or I would open the Bible. Because only the Hollanders could understand the Dutch text we would translate aloud in German. And then we would hear the life-giving words passed back along the aisles in French, Polish, Russian, Czech, and back into Dutch. They were little previews of heaven, these evenings beneath the light bulb. (Ten Boom 1971, p. 201)