Corrie ten Boom is known for rescuing hundreds of Jews during WW2 through her work in the Dutch underground. Telling this incredible story in The Hiding Place, she begins slow, with glimpses into her childhood, her life as a young adult trying to navigate her future, and the years preceding the Nazi occupation of Holland.
What is remarkable is how the lessons from these times, as Corrie frames them, are the ones she recalls later in dire situations. From learning to selflessly love a man who hurt her by marrying another, facing family deaths, and hearing her father’s wisdom, early lessons laid a foundation that prepared her to face crushing trials when war came to her country and her faith was tested.
As she writes, “I know that the experiences of our lives, when we let God use them, become the mysterious and perfect preparation for the work He will give us to do.”“I know that the experiences of our lives, when we let God use them, become the mysterious and perfect preparation for the work He will give us to do.” - Corrie ten Boom Click To Tweet
Corrie fully trusted in God’s wisdom, and there is so much to learn from her story. These are a few of the biggest lessons from The Hiding Place:
1. Service Continues In All Circumstances
Before the war, Corrie had anticipated a quiet life with her sister and father, living and working in the family watch shop. And that was how she lived for years.
Yet in this “ordinary” life, Corrie still served—starting a Bible class for mentally disabled children, tending to household tasks and her aging aunts, practicing hospitality, caring for foster children. She includes these moments in the book, I think, for this reason: to demonstrate that faithful living begins long before a crisis. Courage doesn’t come overnight.
When WW2 hit Holland, taking in Jews was just another faithful step—an extension of the service she had always performed. It snowballed and grew by God’s grace, but it started small.
2. Living Faithfully In A Fallen World Means Following Christ
Corrie and other Christians found themselves facing moral dilemmas that illustrate the tension of living in a fallen world and with an unjust government.
“How should a Christian act when evil was in power?” she asks.
Disobeying wicked rulers to protect those they harm is good–but what about the resistance members who steal and murder in retaliation? What about when they ask where someone is hiding–do you lie to save a life or trust God will honor an honest answer?
Some of these questions remain unresolved, Corrie finds a model for living in a difficult world by looking to Christ:
“How could God Himself show truth and love at the same time in a world like this? By dying. The answer stood out for me sharper and chillier than it ever had before that night: the shape of a Cross etched on the history of the world.”
3. There is No Limit to Forgiveness
Hearing bombs in the distance, her sister prays for the Germans dropping them.
“Oh Lord, listen to Betsie, not me, because I cannot pray for those men at all,” Corrie says.
The most powerful theme of The Hiding Place is forgiveness. Witness to the worst of human nature, Corrie had to forgive those who imprisoned her for doing what is right. Who hurt her family members. Who killed ones she loved.
Ultimately, Corrie realizes that even in this she must ask God for the strength:
“And so I discovered that it is not on our forgiveness any more than on our goodness that the world’s healing hinges but on His. When He tells us to love our enemies, He gives, along with the command, the love itself.”
4. The Gospel is Our Motive In Life and Hope In the Face of Death
It’s beautiful to see how the gospel drives Corrie’s family through the darkest places, shaping their purpose and actions, allowing them to persevere. Fear of getting caught and punished doesn’t prevent them from taking risks for the sake of others. Because they held fast to the knowledge that God is sovereign and their hope is secure.
Corrie and her sister share the gospel with everyone, everywhere. Boldly to a Lieutenant responsible for her situation. Gently to fellow prisoners who cannot understand why God would allow such injustice. The sisters see even the Ravensbruck extermination camp as an opportunity to share the hope of Christ.
5. God is Sovereign Over Every Situation
From the ordinary life she led for decades to the heroic acts that would be remembered for generations, Corrie saw her life in the light of God’s sovereignty. She faced unthinkable and unpredictable situations with a firm reliance on the Lord, knowing that He gives strength as it is needed.Evil nations will be made to account for their deeds: be an instrument of God’s grace and leave everything in His hands. Click To Tweet
God will execute justice in His time. Evil nations will be made to account for their deeds. The ten Boom family understood what a Christian is to do in difficult times: be an instrument of God’s grace and leave everything in His hands.