March is Women’s History Month, and this year I’ve been reflecting on what it is about some women that make their lives so extraordinary.
As a Christian, I am especially drawn to women of faith who have lived out their God-given callings in ways that transformed communities.
One such woman was Corrie ten Boom.
Truth be told, I think it’s ironic that we still get to celebrate “women’s” history month when the woke culture of our day is trying to eliminate the word “woman” from our vocabulary.
But try as they may to strike the word from modern language, there is still something undeniably unique about how God designed and gifted women – and that should be recognized and celebrated.
Indeed, I think it’s precisely those unique feminine propensities and qualities that are a woman’s strength and set her apart.
Corrie ten Boom was an ordinary woman who lived an extraordinary life. She embraced her femininity just as God created her and then tapped into that strength to transform her community, and in so doing, she changed the world.
Corrie ten Boom was born just before the turn of the twentieth century to a strong Christian family in the Netherlands. She detailed the story of her life in her best-selling book The Hiding Place.
She and her family risked their lives to save Jews from the Nazis during World War II. They built a special hiding place for Jews in their home and helped many get to safety.
Eventually, the ten Boom family was betrayed, and Corrie and her sister, Betsie, were sent to a Nazi concentration camp in Germany. While at the camp, Corrie and Betsie ministered to the other prisoners, and many of them became followers of Jesus Christ because of their witness.
In her book, Corrie wrote that the barracks at the concentration camp were crawling with fleas and that she had initially protested the thought of thanking God for the fleas. But Bestie reminded her that the Bible says to give thanks in all circumstances. So, they thanked God for the fleas. Later the sisters discovered the reason they had so much freedom to witness to fellow prisoners in the barracks was because the guards did not want to enter the flea infested barracks.
Thank God for the fleas, indeed!
Corrie survived the concentration camp and went on to establish a home for survivors trying to recover from the horrors of concentration camps. She traveled around the world and wrote books sharing about her experience and her faith in God.
In The Hiding Place, Corrie shared a compelling moment in 1947 when a former Nazi guard at the concentration camp where she was imprisoned told her that he had become a Christian, and then he asked her to forgive him.
She wrote, “I had to do it – I knew that. The message that God forgives has a prior condition: that we forgive those who have injured us.” She said she grabbed his hand and told him that she forgave him. She wrote, “For a long moment we grasped each other’s hands, the former guard and the former prisoner. I had never known God’s love so intensely as I did then.”
Powerful words. Powerful faith. Powerful witness for Christ.
So, what three ordinary things did she do to live an extraordinary life?
First, she was faithful to God. She did not let her circumstances define her faith. She let her faith define her circumstances.
Second, she loved others well. She put others before herself, even when she knew she was risking her comfort, her career, and her very life.
Third, she lived courageously. Corrie demonstrated courage in many ways. It took courage to hide Jews when she knew she was breaking the law. It took courage to witness to others in the concentration camp when to others, it might look like God had abandoned her. It took courage to forgive the man who tortured her in the concentration camp. It took courage to live the rest of her life without bitterness.
And she did all these things in a uniquely feminine way, as designed by God, to impact the world for His glory.
Christian women, let us not be tempted to look at the secular culture around us for guidance on what makes a woman praiseworthy.
Instead, let us be encouraged and inspired by the example of Corrie ten Boom, a true heroine of the faith.
And may we all grow in our faithfulness to God, our love for others, and live life courageously for God’s glory!
Happy Women’s History Month!