Remembering Corrie | Love, Don’t Hate!

Love, not hate
remembering Corrie

“Don’t HATE, Corrie!”  Betsie said.

It was November, 1944, and Corrie was stunned by the look in Betsie’s eyes, full of love and compassion, even for the Nazi guard who was beating Betsie unmercifully.

Corrie ten Boom, younger than her beloved sister Betsie by nine years, could not stand by and watch any longer.  She would never forget the hate on that Nazi woman’s face as she whipped Betsie violently, again and again.  Where did such hate come from?

Suddenly, Corrie knew the answer too well, seeing this latest injustice toward someone she loved.  Hate, even rage, rose up like gall in her own heart, until she was close to choking on it.

Corrie and Betsie had grown up in a household of love and compassion, kindness, and faith in God.  Hate was an enemy they had never met until now. How would these two amazing women deal with a world that seemed bent on hate?

April 15th marks TWO anniversaries for a remarkable and beloved, Dutch watchmaker and Nazi holocaust survivor, Corrie ten Boom.  Born that spring date in Haarlem, Holland (The Netherlands), she would step into eternity on her 91st birthday.

Remembering Corrie ten Boom [April 15, 1892 — April 15, 1983]

Years ago, writer Linda Ellis’ profound poem, “The Dash,” shared the message, that the dates of a person’s birth and death are not as important as how that person spends the DASH in between.  It’s hard to think of many who spent their “dash” as well as Corrie ten Boom, whose life touched and continues to bring hope and encouragement to many, all around the world!

Corrie’s autobiographical book, “The Hiding Place,” written with Elizabeth and John Sherrill, was the basis for this stage play, “Ten Boom the Musical.” Her book became a major motion picture in 1978, sharing the powerful true story of Corrie and her family during the Nazi occupation of Holland.  Her “dash” included life in a loving Christian family that would later risk their lives to hide Jewish people from Nazi persecution and death. The family’s work with the Dutch Resistance finally led to imprisonment, where many of them died.  Their story tells of a great love, courage, and unflinching faith in God.  From a quiet life to unexpected intrigue, great pain and ultimate victory, Corrie’s experience has encouraged millions all over the world through her speaking and her many books.

“Don’t Hate!”

If Corrie was alive today, and could see what’s happening in our nation and our world, what would she say to us now?  She had survived three concentration camps during a devastating World War that took the lives of an estimated 50 to 80 million people, military and civilian. Six million of those were Jewish people—killed simply for being Jews! HATE did that, and Corrie had seen the enemy up close and personal.  And yet, I believe her message for us would include a loving warning, like the one given to Corrie herself by her sister Betsie, even about the Nazis…“Don’t Hate!”

It was a harsh winter in Germany, in 1944.  Corrie, Betsie and hundreds of others were forced into hard labor at Ravensbruck prison, a Nazi death camp for women.  The sixteen-hour days of back-breaking work, with little to eat, were literally killing many of the women.  Betsie, born with pernicious anemia, grew weaker by the day. Seeing her collapse to the ground, Corrie ran to Betsie’s aide, only to be pushed violently aside by a cruel matron others called “the Snake.”

To Corrie’s mind, the beating was the last straw. A devoted Christian woman, but how could she continue to turn the other cheek1, while another person she loved was so cruelly mistreated?  The brutality and deaths she had witnessed caused a deep bitterness to grow toward those who purposed to cause pain.  Finally, Corrie just wanted to get her hands on that Nazi guard and pull her away from Betsie, but other prisoners held her back, fearing more retribution.  Restrained now, by the arms of women who had as much reason to hate as she, Corrie’s tears boiled over.

Pray For Your Enemies

The beating had finally stopped. The Snake threatened and ordered all the women back to work. But, Corrie was still reeling from the scene, and rushed to comfort her now bleeding sister.

“I HATE THAT WOMAN…” Corrie stopped, puzzled by the look on Betsie’s face.

“Don’t hate, Corrie. Pray for that woman!” Betsie whispered. “THEY know how to hate and look what it’s done to THEM!  You can’t protect me here, Corrie—you mustn’t try!”

“How do you pray for such monsters?” Corrie wept. She had trusted the Lord since she was five years old, and had never seen the face of evil, as here in this place.  Jesus warned believers, “Be sober and vigilant, because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”2

Here, behind the ominous, barbed-wire fences of Ravensbruck prison, the smell of death was all around her, choking her with a hatred she had never experienced.  JOY had always defined her life. How was she to deal with such evil?

The True Hiding Place

Corrie remembered the words of the apostle Paul to believers… “Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might… take up the whole armor of God that you may be able to withstand in the evil day; and, having done all, to stand.”3

Corrie was the strong one, feisty even; now she definitely wanted to make a stand. But is that what Paul was saying? She loved the Lord, and was often steadied  by Betsie’s wise counsel, as they grew up. Betsie was right! They were here in this place of death to bring hope to others—not to hate—not even the Nazis.

What Would Corrie Do Today?

The Bible tells us that in the last days, people will be offended and there will be much division. Hearts will turn cold toward others, and hate will abound.4  That people will be as we see many becoming in our world today.5

In Luke 6, Jesus said, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”

On her knees, Corrie asked the Lord to forgive her and to give her the right heart toward these enemies. She prayed the infection of hatred in their hearts would heal also; that they would learn to love again.  If our adversary, even the devil, can cause hate to eat at our souls, then we have already lost the battle. Hate steals any compassion we might have for another soul, while it steals our own peace.

God allowed Corrie and Betsie ten Boom to be imprisoned at Ravensbruck to bring light and hope, the love of God, to others suffering that horror. Even if it meant they themselves should die there! Betsie did die, but that miraculous event would encourage Corrie’s heart for the rest of her life as she traveled to more than 60 countries to tell others, “No pit is so deep that God’s love is not deeper still!

Putting Out Fires of Hatred

It seemed the whole world was on fire during World War 2.  And it seems that fire of hatred and division is spreading across the globe in these times, when LOVE and compassion are desperately needed!

On this anniversary of Corrie ten Boom’s birth, and her going home to the Lord she loved, we pray the world will stop and consider LOVE, not hate!

I Peter 4:8 (AMP) “Above all, have fervent and unfailing love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. It overlooks unkindness, and seeks the best for others.

The Song I Came to Sing

I woke early this morning thinking about lyrics to a song I’ve written, titled, “The Song I Came to Sing,” inspired by a gravestone epitaph I saw years ago.  I was just a young girl then, wandering curiously through an otherwise sunny graveyard, but the words on the stone left a lasting impact on my life… it read:

“I spent my life stringing and un-stringing my instrument, but the song I came to sing remains unsung.”

I’m a singer, from a family of singers and musicians, and those words still chill me.  The person’s last message on earth told of a life that had somehow missed the mark. Whatever his dreams had been were never to be.  My own father, once a fine violinist, had let his life go by, mourning his silent instrument, and living out that same, sad conclusion.

God has a purpose and a plan for every life!  I remember thinking, back then, “I don’t want to end my life someday, not having fulfilled my purpose.”

While it’s early, my husband still sleeps, and I began reading my Bible.  Turning a page in Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians, I found a note I’d hand-written beside the text at some point…

“Live, as if from heaven to Earth—not from the battle, but from the victory!” 

Realizing Things Unseen

2 Corinthians 4:18 reads, “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

Unfortunately, when I read the words on that gravestone, years ago, it would be many years before I discovered my own true “song.” Altogether, forty years of wandering in my own wilderness.  I was so caught up in the things of this broken world back then, I felt trapped by life.  I couldn’t see that all the “truth” I had ever believed about God, and almost everything else, was a big fat lie!

Thankfully, the Lord gave my soul a song to sing—March 4, 1984.  Now, in the years since my heart and life was changed so dramatically, I can understand what I wrote in my Bible that day.

“Live, as if from heaven to Earth—not from the battle, but from the victory!”  Victory in this life is found when we come to know God’s heart and mind, through His word and the leading of His Spirit—and begin to live from His perspective. Or, as a my great-aunt Stella said, “You don’t know what real life is about, until you come to the foot of the Cross.”

Finding the Path

For me, it took God literally speaking right out loud, responding to my anguished and impudent cry, “Show yourself or get out of my face forever!”  I don’t recommend that approach to Him now, you might understand. But, I’d come to a pained point in my life that needed some real answers, or I was done with all of it. Maybe you can relate to that?

Amazingly, the Lord answered my bold challenge that day, with love and grace I didn’t deserve. And with four words I will never forget—“You’re going home, Susan!”  Twice, He said it, and I could no longer deny Him.

These days, I see so many people believing all the same lies I’d bought into, and it’s sad to watch. I want to shake them into truth, “STOP, you’re going the wrong way!”  It’s like watching someone about to walk off a cliff or under a falling building, and unable to get their attention and avert a catastrophe.

People pay too little attention to God these days, when eternity hangs in the balance!

It still amazes me that, taking Him at His word, believing Him for Who He really is, one can actually glimpse this whole thing we call life, as if through God’s eyes.  But, there it is—it’s true!

Earth’s Perspective Only Leads to More Questions

The battles we endure here on Earth are like swimming in rough waters; always some resistance.  However, by faith, the battle is able to strengthen us, as we continue to swim—believing there is victory on the far shore.  Because, there is!

Seeing life from God’s perspective, with faith and courage to press on, we overcome the obstacles and counterfeit paths of this world, day by day.  The Father, like a good Dad, says to His child, “You can do this,” and the child takes baby steps. “Come on,” He says, “Come to me, don’t give up.” He does that with each of us through this life, if only we let Him.

Learning to see yourself, your surroundings, other people; every challenge, every issue and effort—as much as God allows from Heaven’s perspective—is the very answer to life.  At once, hard, even death-defying situations take on new meaning. Trusting Him for every step is an adventure I might have missed.  I pray you won’t miss it either!

“You’re going home, Susan!”

I still hear Him say, “You’re going HOME, Susan.” He said my name, and it keeps me swimming, through even the most troubling waters. “Come to Me,” He says in my heart, “The victory is here waiting. Stay on the path. The world and its offerings will entice and try to defeat all your efforts to endure in love and peace. But, trust and keep your eyes on Me, and I will get you Home.”

Sounds crazy, right?  It did to me for forty years, until I had lost everything and bothered to seek Him. Amazingly, I found He’d been there all the time, waiting! My favorite Bible verse (Isaiah 43:1b) says… “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine.”

Taste and See!

When we taste only the things of this life, and fail to look up, we miss real life—the real “song” He planned for us to sing.  The “peace” I had sought here on Earth was in whatever made me happy at any given moment—an object, a place, a palatable philosophy; another person I thought could make all my dreams come true.  I was hung up on whatever I could accomplish with my talents, looks, money, and so-called smarts.

Oh, if anyone had asked if I was going to heaven when I died, I would have said, “Yes, I’m a good person!” But I didn’t know the Lord then, nor His Way to that eternal Home.  With no anchor for my soul—only the counsel or persuasions of others who had yet to believe Him—I found I only had more questions than answers.

When I understood those four words the Lord spoke aloud to me in 1984, and the amazing GRACE they imparted to my heart, I knew I would spend the rest of my life telling about Him and His truth.

The Song I Came to Sing

I’ve sung thousands of songs in my time, but THIS is “the song” I came to sing:  about a perfect heavenly Father who loved us so much He became one of us on Earth; then laid down His life to pay for the sins of all who would believe.

I co-wrote the stage play, “Ten Boom the Musical,” with my sister Donna Griggs, about the life of Corrie ten Boom, whose faith brought hope to many women in Ravensbruck concentration camp, during WW2. Corrie found God’s call on her life—HER “song”—in that place.

I pray you will find your own life’s “song” in Him.  That you will live in victory, as if from Heaven to Earth, with the hope of the eternal Home He promises to all who come to Him by faith in Christ alone.