“You are my hiding place and my shield;
I hope in your word. “
Psalm 119:114 (NRSV)
In choosing which book to review for our theme “Trusting God when He’s silent”, The Hiding Place seemed the ideal choice for me.
The Hiding Place was written in 1971 by Corrie ten Boom with John and Elizabeth Sherrill. It is Corrie’s personal memoir of her life growing up in Holland and her family’s involvement in helping persecuted Jews find refuge from the tyranny of the Nazis, who had occupied her country during the Second World War.
Corrie’s personal account of trusting and relying on God through the horror of the Nazi occupation, as well as the brutality and despair of imprisonment and a German concentration camp, is a true reflection of the power of God to shine a light in even the darkest places of human suffering. It is a testimony that God is with us in the silence and does not fail us nor forsake us.
The plot of The Hiding Place
Cornelia, otherwise known as Corrie, begins her true account in January 1937 in Haarlem, Holland, in the childhood home she shares with her sister Betsie and their elderly father, Casper. The mood is festive, as the family watchmaking business is celebrating its 100th birthday. The entire village is participating in the festivities that will take place in the little in-house watch shop.
The birthday party takes a rather somber turn however, when Corrie’s brother Willem brings a Jewish man, who has recently fled from Germany after being attacked on a street corner in Munich.
Corrie continues her narration by reminiscing on past incidents she had experienced while growing up in the narrow house that the family nicknamed the Beje. One such memory she shares is of her trepidation of her first day of school. Understanding her fears, her father read aloud Psalm 119, where God provides a hiding place for His children (Psalm 119:114).
Corrie and her sister Betsie reach adulthood and lead a quiet but happy life as spinsters in their childhood home under the loving guidance of their father. The daily routine of the three occupants of the Beje provide them with the same comfort as the familiar ticking of the many clocks that surround them. However, their tranquil regularity is forever disturbed when the Nazis invade Holland in May 1940.
Life in occupied Holland takes on a sinister turn. However, the most alarming element of the Nazi occupation is the persecution of the Jews. After witnessing the Nazis ransacking a Jewish shop across from the Beje, the ten Booms begin to offer persecuted Jews asylum in their home, until they can be safely re-located to the countryside.
Thus, begins the family’s involvement in the Underground movement, an illegal resistance network system that helps Jews escape the tyranny of Nazi persecution. Corrie becomes the head of the Beje branch.
However, on February 28th 1944, the ten Boom’s participation in the Underground movement comes to an abrupt end. Exposed as national traitors, the family faces extreme peril at the hands of the Gestapo.
As they enter the darkest chapter of their lives, the ten Booms need to rely on the goodness of God and seek refuge in the spiritual hiding place He offers them.
The meaning behind the title The Hiding Place
Casper ten Boom’s reading of Psalm 119 provides an eloquent introduction to the meaning behind the title of this epic book. God is our spiritual hiding place, our refuge in times of trouble.
Corrie is confronted with this during her time in a German concentration camp, in particular through her sister Betsie, who always chooses to keep her eyes on God, regardless of how appalling their circumstances are.
Additionally, the hiding place refers to the safe house of the Beje that the ten Booms create for persecuted Jews; in particular, the secret room they use to hide their jewish contemporaries in during Gestapo raids.
My reaction to reading The Hiding Place
This book is admittedly a somber read, but it entails important information that every Christian, or anyone seeking Christ, should be aware of.
We live in a world that is just as broken and unjust as the Nazi occupied Holland described in this true account. Acts that transgress the decency of humanity occur unfortunately every day.
The Hiding Place is a necessary reminder that God is at work even in the darkest of situations, though we may not see it. He is with us as we fight the things that threaten to hurt us; He will never fail us nor forsake us.
However, on our part, we need to believe that God can make a way where we see no way. We need to put our faith and trust in Him and keep our eyes on Him, and not on our circumstances. We too, can take refuge in God as our own hiding place. By doing so, we can experience hope and encouragement under even the worst circumstances.
This book also encourages us to show compassion for those who seek to hurt and destroy us, especially when they do not know the love and mercy of Christ. Knowing that we cannot reach this level of love on our own, The Hiding Place describes how God meets us where we are; He bring us to a place of peace and ultimately, forgiveness – the latter of which is a constant theme of this book.
While reading The Hiding Place, your faith is tested – how can God have allowed such travesties to occur? And yet it shows such wondrous examples of God’s love for His children. If you didn’t believe in signs, wonders, and miracles before reading this book, you will by the time you turn the last page.
Would l recommend The Hiding Place?
I would highly recommend The Hiding Place for anyone, who is struggling with adversity and feels like God is not hearing their pleading and their prayers. This book will assure you that not only does God hear you, He is right there with you in your situation and is guiding you through it.
Put your faith and trust in God, and let Him be your refuge – your hiding place – while He works everything out for your good.
Where can l purchase The Hiding Place?
What else has Corrie ten Boom written?
Corrie ten Boom has written several faith-inspiring books such as Tramp for the Lord , In my Father’s House, and Marching Orders for the End Battle: Getting Ready for Christ’s Return.
Where can l learn more about Corrie ten Boom and her family?
It is possible to visit the ten Boom house in the Netherlands, which has been transformed into a museum. For more information on guided tours, visit the museum’s website at Corre ten Boom House.