Monday, June 11, 2012

Thank God for the Fleas

I've been thinking about my tonsils this semester.  A lot. I lead such a profound thought life.

I've made good progress in rebuilding my health this year, but my tonsils continue to give me problems, thus slowing down my recovery process, and making me dead tired and utterly spacey.  The fatigue makes me feel inept, and makes my body feel like the enemy.

So I'm getting my tonsils out next month.

In the meantime I am prone to lie on my bed daydreaming about a giant vacuum that sucks them out of my throat, victorious and smug.

When my tonsil vacuum daydreams are over I spend a lot of time blaming my tonsils.

I blame them when, in my state of fatigue, I spill bags of flour, burn coconut curry chicken, and fling raw turkey on the floor.

I blame them when I sit down to grade a pile of papers and just.can't.

I blame them when I get in the shower still wearing clothes, or try to drive away in someone else's car before realizing it's not mine.

Just kidding.

I blame the voices inside my head when that happens.

If I'm not blaming my tonsils, I may be worrying about my tonsillectomy.

I hear tonsillectomies hurt.  Really bad.  And they require anesthesia.  Oh dear. And I knew a girl once whose tonsillectomy changed the sound of her voice.  Now I'm nervous the same will happen to me. My voice is my auditory 'fingerprint,' if you will.  If it changes I'm afraid I'll feel like Sandy or Sally, instead of Sarah.

Naturally, all this thinking about tonsils seeps into my conversations with close friends and family members.  Not too long ago my sister had a dream about a giant tonsil. It was chasing her.

So today I've decided enough is enough.  I need to stop thinking about tonsils.

Instead, I will think about fleas.

Clearly positive thinking is one my strengths.

It's actually not all bad.  And that, I guess, is the point of this post.

When I was in high school I read about Corrie Ten Boom, the Dutch Christian who was thrown into a concentration camp for hiding Jews in her house during World War II.

In her book The Hiding Place Corrie describes the condition of the barracks she, her sister Betsie, and the other female prisoners shared at Ravensbruck Camp.

They were worked so hard that many of the women died; fights often broke out among the women; and the barracks stunk.  Oh how they stunk—of rotting corpses, defecation, and dirty bodies.

But worst of all were the fleas.  The barracks were so thick with them they were almost unbearable.

One day, after reading the admonition in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 to rejoice in all things, Betsie suggested they thank God for the fleas.  It took some convincing, but Corrie eventually bowed in thanks with Betsie for the wretched fleas, trusting that a supremely good God was working to use even the fleas for their good and his glory.

During their time at Ravensbruck Betsie and Corrie started a Bible study with the other prisoners.  The studies were encouraging and nourishing, but risky. If the guards found out about them the women would be beaten and even killed.

For some reason, though, the guards did not visit their barracks, allowing the women complete freedom to pray and read the Word.  Their barracks became a place of fellowship; their studies a time of refuge.

Later the ladies discovered the reason the guards left their barracks unattended.  You guessed it: the fleas.

I know I can't compare my tonsils to a flea-infested prison cell, but I do want to take my cue from Betsie and Corrie.  Like them, I want to be the kind of person who thanks God for the ways he makes ugly things beautiful, and unpleasant things glorious.

And if I really believe that God's goodness has the last word in my life, then I ought to thank him for his pervasive goodness, even when it looks different than I think it should.  This is one way I can foster faith.

So I want to thank God that, in his all-knowing, all-powerful, and perfect goodness, he's allowed my tonsils to slow my recovery these 20 months, thus necessitating this unpleasant and expensive surgery.  He's got to be doing something really good with this.

I just can't see it yet.

Who knows, maybe getting my tonsils out will give me the singing voice I've always wanted.

Watch out Adele: soon I could be Someone Like You.

© by scj


  1. I loved this, Sarah. I read this story while I was sick in bed and was also encouraged by the "fleas". Your story continues to inspire me and help grow my own faith. God bless you. I will be praying for your surgery.

  2. Thank you, Tanya. I am so sorry to hear you're in bed sick. Is it just a passing bug? Thankful for your friendship and encouragement on this journey. Miss you. :)


  3. Needed to read this... I love your thoughts, Sarah dear. Ill praise the Lord for your tonsils with you! ;)

  4. Sarah,
    this is so crazy...I have been reading The Hiding Place again this week and was seriously just thinking about writing a post about that section about thanking God for the fleas, and then I pulled up your blog and there this was! are you like my brain-twin or something?!:)

  5. Macy,

    It must be the month to read 'The Hiding Place'--I had someone else tell me they had just discussed Corrie and the fleas the week I wrote this, too. :)

    You should write the post. :) I'd love to read it!