Like most Americans, I have spent a lot of time on my knees, asking God for help with the challenges that members of my family were facing. As each of my kids grew, I prayed with them as well as for them because I wanted them to build a relationship with their eternal Father.
It used to be that my desire to make prayer a part of my children’s daily lives was supported by the official institutions of America. But that is no longer true. Even Thanksgiving is no longer presented in America’s public schools as a holiday based on prayer.
So, what’s a mother to do?
I could get angry, or sarcastic, or discouraged. Instead, I looked at other times in history where God was told by the establishment that He was not welcome. One such time happened less than 100 years ago, in Nazi Germany.
In her book The Hiding Place, author Corrie ten Boom describes how she and her family hid Jews from the Germans. They eventually got caught and were sent to various concentration camps. Corrie and her sister stayed together and one cold winter night arrived in a new camp. They were dumped into a barracks and told to find a bed.
The beds in that barracks were long rows of boards filled with straw built into narrow tiers. They had to climb up the tiers until they found an empty spot and crawl into the straw. There were no blankets. The sisters tried to burrow into the straw to get a bit of warmth. Suddenly, they both jumped to the floor in disgust.
The straw was filled with hungry fleas.
Corrie began to cry, but her sister took her hands and told her that they were going to say a prayer praising God.
"Even for the fleas?!" Corrie exclaimed.
"Even for the fleas," her sister answered calmly.
Corrie looked into her sister’s eyes and couldn’t let her down. So she and her sister held hands in that cold and dark and horrible place and thanked God for all His gifts – even the fleas. In the book, Corrie tells her readers that she really didn’t mean the words as she said them.
Time went by, and the sister became too ill to join the work crews. So she remained in the barrack, knitting socks for the soldiers. When Corrie returned to the barrack that night, her sister told her how the women in that barrack had spent the day praying together and how wonderful it had been. Corrie didn’t believe her.
But every day, the same thing happened. The women prayed through the day. Finally, Corrie asked a guard if her sister’s reports of prayer were true. The guard confirmed the story.
"How is that possible? The commandant would never allow prayer," Corrie said.
"Oh, the commandant never goes into that barrack," replied the guard.
"Because it’s full of fleas," shrugged the guard.
So, on this Thanksgiving, as I look around at an American establishment that is increasingly hostile to God, I know that as long as I continue to offer a place to Him in my life and in the lives of my children, He will find a way to take my offer. Even if it means I see a few fleas.
That knowledge is something to be thankful for.
Peg Luksik is Chairman of the Center for American Heritage, dedicated to rebuilding America from the family up. You can help their important work by joining their Hamilton Project at www.centerforamericanheritage.com