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"The Hiding Place": Book Review and What I Learned

"The Hiding Place is an autobiographical memoir by Corrie ten Boom, a devoutly religious woman who lived in the Holland city of Haarlem during the Nazi occupation. Compelled by her unshakeable Christian morality, she defied tyranny to rescue her Jewish neighbors who faced annihilation during the Holocaust. She was ultimately caught and sent to the notorious Ravensbruck death camp, where she witnessed scenes of unimaginable cruelty. In the camp, it was Corrie’s bedrock faith in the glory of God that sustained her. She discovered that love was a far more powerful force than hate—for God’s love was truly unconquerable." – Summary by Shortform

For the month of March, our ministry's book club read The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom. A fantastic autobiography, The Hiding Place follows the life of Dutch watchmaker, and warrior of God, Corrie who is moved by her faith during the Nazi occupation of Holland, to join the Resistance efforts to save the lives of Dutch Jews from the horrors of Hitler's death camps. To say this book moved me from laughter to tears would be an understatement. I love Corrie Ten Boom! I love the way in which she uncomplainingly takes of the duties of the family-run watchmaker business, though mother was something she always hoped she might be. I cried with Corrie as her one and only love turned away from her for a love that his family might find more suitable. I prayed with her as she lay itching from flea bites, cold, and hungry in Ravensbruck, holding onto hope that her and her sister Betsie might just make it through. Corrie tested my faith and opened my eyes greater still to the power and the calling of God. She helped me to remember the great miracles God performs in our lives when we need them most; the miracles that perhaps just you and God might be able to understand.

As a military historian, this book helped satisfy my love of history while adding a personal element to the horrors of the Holocaust. I think so many of us forget that the victims of such a hateful, terrible time had faces, names, families, hobbies, jobs, and even pets. I think we sometimes we miss the discussion that the people being hunted by the Third Reich were not just Jewish, and that none of them had done anything wrong. The Hiding Place brings us back to that truth. It is brave, it is beautifully written, and it has Jesus on each and every page. To honor what we have read, I thought I would share just a couple of insights I was reminded of or learned for the first time as I read Corrie's incredible story:

Ingenuity of man at God's instruction can outlast the Devil

As I was reading The Hiding Place, I was struck by the construction of the book's namesake landmark: the hiding place built in Corrie's room at the Beje. As Corrie described it, it took six days to build as members of the Resistance brought in each piece of brick, bucket of paint, piece of word, hammer and nail in one by one disguised under newspapers of coats. In my mind I thought about how this couldn't possibly be possible and how certain I was that the story world end in it's failure to preserve life behind it's faux walls. To my great surprise, this was not the case at all! In fact, Corrie's hiding place was one of the most miraculous successes of her story (and there were A LOT of miraculous successes in Corrie's story). I was reminded as I read of Philippians 4:3 and am more certain now, more than ever, that we can indeed do all things through Christ and at His perfect direction.

Faith isn't always about how faithful you feel

Throughout the book, Corrie constantly compares her faith to that of her family members (whom she feels are much more faithful than she). Though, I would contend, that Corrie's faith is so much greater than she ever gives it credit for! To be able to go through all that she had, even in the times where she wasn't sure if she was being led by faith or just her own will, and still come out praising God and giving Him glory is a testament to the warrior inside. We don't always feel very faithful. Life is difficult! It hurts, it tears us down and makes us feel more alone than we have ever felt; but, if we are still holding on and praying and remembering God is there, even if just out of obedience for a time until our faith can be stirred again, we are living out that faith in our lives. Corrie didn't always feel faithful, but as her story shows, her faith guided her through and helped her become a giant for Christ.

Forgiveness starts with make the determination that we will forgive

This was a hard one for Corrie and a hard one for all of us as well. Reading The Hiding Place, one would be sympathetic to the idea of unforgiveness in the face of all Corrie had been through during her time in the Resistance and at Ravensbruck, but also all throughout her adult life. So much pain can harden our hearts and make us forget the truth that Jesus died for the person that hurt us, as much as He did for us, ourselves. That's where Corrie begins. She had no feeling of warmth toward those that had hurt her, especially not those at the death camps; but she resolved that her feelings could not once again be the determining factor of her actions. She knew that if she were worthy of forgiveness, surely even the worst of us were as well and the decision to forgive starts with faith and ends with love.

God lays out His plans before us and doesn't ask us to figure it out

Throughout the story, Corrie and her sister Betsie had visions of what was to come in their lives. Though try as they might to make sense of them, they certainly never figured them out before they came to be, and that was really the point of them. God often times will lay out His plans, good and bad, before us not so that we can figure them out, but so that we may know that He already has. Our job isn't to have all the answers; it is to trust that God will lead us to them in His perfect time.

The Hiding Place was a fantastic, true story about love, resilience, faith , and God at the center of it all and I highly recommend to each of you. If you would like to join us for April's book club, we meet the last Monday of each month at 10 am PST via Zoom (Details can be found on our "Events" Page). This month we are reading Kisses from Katie: A Story of Relentless Love and Redemption by Katie Davis Majors. I hope you join us!

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