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Peace that surpasses all understanding: Lessons from Corrie Ten Boom

Peace elusive peace...

I'm sure if you googled "What do people want most in life?", the top answer would be peace of mind. For most, having peace of mind encompasses all the things that people fear they will lose - good physical & emotional health; financial stability & provision for basic needs; loving & lasting relationships.  It seems we base a life of peace on these three categories.

But what, if like Job, all these things were taken from us...  Would we still have peace??

Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there. The LORD 
gave, and the LORD has taken away; Blessed be the name of the LORD. 
 In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong.  
Job 1:20-22

I remember watching a segment of Michelle Duggar when she was in the hospital after losing her baby Jubilee.  Through tears, she quoted this verse from Job.  I was in awe of her profound strength and peace in the midst of such sorrow as she blessed the name of the Lord.

I just finished reading a book by Corrie Ten Boom called A Prisoner and Yet.  Amazon shares this about the book, "A Prisoner and Yet reveals Corrie's belief in Christ that carried an innocent woman through some of the worst agonies man can devise."

Corrie and her sister Betsie's lives showcased a great love for their Heavenly Father; a faith-filled, trusting love which filled them with the peace that surpasses all understanding in the midst of incredible horror and suffering.

As many of you know, Corrie Ten Boom's family lived in Holland and provided a Hiding Place for the Jewish people who were fleeing from the Nazi regime; a regime that was capturing Jews and imprisoning them in concentration camps.  Approximately six million Jewish people were held captive in concentration camps where they were tortured, treated like animals, and eventually died or were savagely murdered.

Corrie,  her sister Betsie and their father were eventually found out and captured by the Nazi's who imprisoned them in a concentration camp.  Corrie's father, who was elderly, died just two weeks after his capture.  Mercy shown to Him by the Heavenly Father...

As I read through the accounts of what Corrie and Betsie witnessed and suffered, I was struck by Corrie's observation - her amazement of how much suffering a human body is able to endure.

The following excerpts from A Prisoner and Yet showcase lessons I learned from Corrie Ten Boom - lessons about the peace that surpasses all understanding; a profound peace experienced when our eyes are fixed upon Jesus.

As Corrie and Betsie were becoming acclimated to life in a concentration camp, Corrie observed the following as she watched her sister Betsie, in the barracks, sitting on a bed a few rows over doing some mending...

"There was something homelike about the way she sat there.  Her face was so peaceful and sweet.

  The pleasant atmosphere which Betsie always seemed to create about her at home
  had not left her even here."

Betsie lived a life devoted and in service to the Lord before her imprisonment which shown on her face and in her actions while imprisoned.

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.
Isaiah 26:3

A life saturated in Christ will yield the peace that surpasses all understanding EVEN in the midst of extreme trial.

Early on in her imprisonment, Corrie would think often about she and her sister being released - hoping sooner than later, but as the days and weeks went by, she started to just focus on the present...

"God had called us to this place, and here was now our task.  I had to learn not to look forward constantly to being released, but to accept the fact that I was here..."

for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances
Philippians 4:11

A life focused on accepting the circumstances of God's call, WHEREVER THAT MIGHT BE, will yield the peace that surpasses all understanding.

For the most part Corrie and Betsie were blessed with fellow prisoners who got along well, despite the close quarters and horrible conditions of the barracks.  But one day, a spirit of contention rose up in their barracks with fighting, screaming and pushing each other off of beds.  Corrie and her sister prayed urgently...

"When we expect much from the Lord He gives us much."

Corrie and Betsie praised God as the room suddenly became quiet, like the "swift ending of a thunderstorm"...

I love the Lord, for he heard my voice;
he heard my cry for mercy.
Because he turned his ear to me,
I will call on him as long as I live.
Psalm 116:1-2

And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.
1 John 5:15

A life of believing prayer will yield the peace that surpasses all understanding.

We've all seen the horrendous pictures of the skeleton-like prisoners from the Holocaust.  Corrie and Betsie experienced first hand having little or no food...

"Lord Jesus bless this food for Jesus sake, Amen.

 How often I had prayed those words thoughtlessly!  Now they were fraught with  meaning.  If God's blessing rested on this food, it would be enough and it would also keep me from becoming covetous."

And indeed, Corrie shared story after story of God's provision of food and strength to her body.

Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, looked up toward heaven, and blessed them. 
Then, breaking the loaves into pieces, he kept giving the bread and fish to the
 disciples so they could distribute it to the people.
Luke 9:16

A life lived invoking the blessings of God will yield the peace that surpasses all understanding.

When Corrie was standing outside for hours and hours at roll call, she would look past the barbed wire fences, at the mountains, meadows and flowers, and yearned for the day she could enjoy God's creation in freedom.  Corrie thought to herself...

"The earth is a concentration camp.  Someday we shall be free. Some day the limitations of earth shall pass away and heaven will be our dwelling place.  We shall no longer be conscious of the presence of demons."

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. 
In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.
John 16:33

As Corrie's sister Betsie was nearing death Corrie observed the following...

"Betsie was not afraid to die.  She always talked about heaven as if she had already been there.  She knew that her life was hidden with Christ in God."

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.  Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.  For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.  When Christ, who is your life, 
appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. 
Colossians 3:1-4

A life lived with an eternal perspective will yield the peace that surpasses all understanding.

Betsie's dying words to her sister...

"Must tell people what we have learned here.  We must tell them that there is no pit so deep that He is not deeper still.  They will listen to us, Corrie, because we have been here."

A life lived believing that God redeems ALL circumstances will yield the peace that surpasses all understanding.

Final lessons from Corrie Ten Boom on the peace that surpasses all understanding...

"'There will be an end to this also.'  I said to myself.  It was the sop of comfort I always gave myself when things were very bad.  It always helped a little."

"If you belong to the Father, you need fear nothing.  I have learned that by experience.  He is stronger than all temptation."

"Clouds, too, can give light if only the sun shines on them."

I highly recommend reading A Prisoner and Yet!

This blog post only touches upon one of the themes of the book.  There is so much more that could be shared.  How Corrie and her sister selflessly served others in their own extreme suffering; the church services that Corrie held in the barracks; the miracles that occurred through answered prayer,  and the many conversions that happened through Corrie and her sister's witness in the concentration camp.

To read more about how to experience God's peace please click on the following:

May we all experience the peace that surpasses all understanding...

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free.

  Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
  In the light of His glory and grace.

Through death into life everlasting
He passed, and we follow Him there;
O’er us sin no more hath dominion
For more than conqu’rors we are!

His Word shall not fail you, He promised;
Believe Him and all will be well;
Then go to a world that is dying,
His perfect salvation to tell!

Helen Howarth Lemmel

Jesus embodies the peace that surpasses all understanding.  We need only to look to Him. 

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  1. So true. Seems so hard to find peace of mind sometimes.
    This is a helpful and encouraging post.

    May you find true peace.

    1. Lux, It certainly can be.

      I'm so glad you were encouraged.

      Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. :-)

  2. Corrie was an amazing example to us of God's strength in crisis. Love her thoughts about peace and the direction she gives!

    1. She certainly was!

      Thank you so much for sharing in the conversation. :-)

  3. Beautiful, precious words to my soul this morning, dear friend. Oh, how blessed we are to have found such a sweet, deep-settled peace in our souls! It is not contingent upon our outward circumstances, but flows from our Father's heart right into ours! Praise His name! Thank you for your faithfulness, and praise God, I got this post in my inbox!!!! I do not know what happened, but I suddenly started getting the posts, it seems. How I thank the Lord!

    1. Cheryl, I'm so glad you were blessed this morning by Corrie's testimony and legacy.

      I love how you stated, "flows from our Father's heart right into ours!" What a beautiful word picture!

      Awe. You are welcome. Thank you for your encouragement that I always cherish.

      Praise God. I'm so glad!

      Blessings dear friend.

  4. I love this! Thank you so much for sharing. I haven't read A Prisoner and Yet but I have read a couple of other books on the life of Corrie and am blown away by her steadfast assurance and faith through all she faced. She is an incredible example to us all :) #IntentionalTuesday neighbor!

    1. Sarah, I'm so glad you enjoyed this post. You are very welcome.

      You will definitely love A Prisoner and Yet and be even more blown away by her testimony of faith, like I was.

      Indeed she is!

      Thank you so much for stopping by!

  5. Great post, Karen! I loved this statement, "A life saturated in Christ will yield the peace that surpasses all understanding EVEN in the midst of extreme trial." The peace the Jesus give is not the peace the world expects. We often look to peace in our circumstances rather than seeking peace in our hearts. Thanks for sharing this today!

    1. Thank you for your kind words.

      Yes, it was certainly something so evident in the life of Corrie and her sister. They lived and breathed Jesus.

      Great verse you reminded me of that indeed the peace that Jesus gives is not the peace that the world expects.

      Great insight. Peace truly does come from the heart, where Jesus lives.

      You have blessed me with your comments. Thanks so much!

  6. This sounds like an amazing book. Of course anything involving the faith of Corrie ten Boom would be good! I love the Prince of Peace is ready to give us peace, as much as we will accept. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Lisa, It truly is! I wholeheartedly agree! :-)

      Thank you for the reminder that Jesus is the Prince of Peace.

      I appreciate so much your taking the time to comment. :-)

  7. Wow, Karen, what a great review. I just wrote that book on my "books to read" list. I look forward to reading it, thanks for the suggestion. I love this quote: "Must tell people what we have learned here. We must tell them that there is no pit so deep that He is not deeper still. They will listen to us, Corrie, because we have been here." On her deathbed, no less. Inspiring. Thank you for sharing, Karen. ((sweet blessings)) <3

    1. Brenda, Thank you. :-)

      You will not be disappointed! It has now become one of my favorite books!

      Indeed, that quote was extremely inspiring.

      You are very welcome. Blessings to you to!

  8. Karen, Corrie is an amazing woman of faith! Thanks for sharing this excerpt with us. It encouraged me so much today. Hugs :)

    1. Lyli, She certainly is!

      You are welcome. Praising God for His encouragement to you. :-)


  9. I have read "The Hiding Place" and will have to read this one now. Corrie ten Boom and Betsie were amazing women, witnesses of the strength that God gives us no matter what our circumstances. Only by His grace can we rest in His peace at such a terrible place and period as they endured. It is beautiful that Corrie documented for many generations after them about Betsie's peace at home when she sat in the midst of a concentration camp.
    Thank you for sharing this book.
    Caring through Christ, ~ linda

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your insights and joining in the conversation. I very much appreciate it! :-)

      You are very welcome!


  10. Thank you for sharing this! I am always inspired by the Ten Boom family and have found more here to cherish. Thank you for sharing with us on the Art of Home-Making Mondays at Strangers & Pilgrims on Earth!

    1. You are very welcome!

      I'm so glad you found more to be inspired by through the Ten Boom family.

      Blessings. :-)

  11. Wow! This sounds like a very powerful book. Corrie ten Boom is a person I have always been intrigued to know more about. The book you share above sounds like one that would not only give me great insight into her life, but also her faith journey through the horrendous trials she faced. What a blessing she was to so many people. Thank you for this review and for making me aware that peace is possible even in the most dire situations. Blessings!

    1. Mary, Indeed it was!

      Having read the Hiding Place, I was so glad that I found out about A Prisoner and Yet (through another blogger actually) and read these incredibly edifying new testimonies of the Ten Boom family.

      You are very welcome. I appreciate so much your stopping by. :-)

  12. I think you're right that we all long for peace. Corrie ten Boom's story is so powerful and I love the lessons you draw out from it here about how we can know God's peace even in difficult circumstances.

    1. Carly, Thank you so much for your kind and encouraging words.

      Blessings and peace to you. :-)

  13. Wow! Sounds like a must read for all of us! Thank you so much for sharing those excerpts!

  14. I always find Corrie and Betsie so very inspiring! Thanks so much for linking up this post at Booknificent Thursday on this week!


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