Life Lessons From the Hiding Place: Corrie’s Example

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform summary of "The Hiding Place" by Corrie ten Boom. Shortform has the world's best summaries of books you should be reading.

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What are some life lessons from The Hiding Place? How does Corrie ten Boom’s experiences and attitude set an example for others?

The life lessons from The Hiding Place are all about preserving kindness where you can, remaining strong in the face of adversity, and holding on to your values.

Read about the life lessons from The Hiding Place you can apply to your life.

What are the Life Lessons From The Hiding Place?

Despite the occasional distractions, pastimes, and the company of her cellmates, Corrie’s flu grew worse under these conditions of malnourishment and lack of access to proper medical care. Two weeks after her arrival at Scheveningen, Corrie was taken to the prison hospital.

There are important messages from her perilous time. The life lessons from The Hiding Place are explored below.

Be Kind

One of the life lessons from The Hiding Place is to be kind. It may seem unlikely, but these tumultuous times showed some unexpected kindness.

When she was being admitted to the hospital, a nurse surreptitiously asked Corrie if there was anything she could do to help her. Astonished by this unexpected display of kindness, Corrie asked her if she would be able to procure a needle and thread, soap, toothbrush, and, most importantly of all, a Bible. The nurse told Corrie that she would see what she could do. 

The doctors diagnosed Corrie with pre-tuberculosis. When she got back to the waiting room, the nurse covertly pressed a small package into Corrie’s hand as she walked by. When Corrie returned to her cell, she eagerly opened the package. To her delight, the package contained two bars of prewar soap; a packet of safety pins; and the four Gospels, in four small, separate booklets. Corrie, characteristically, distributed the goods among her cellmates, but they refused to accept the Gospels. The veteran prisoners told Corrie that there would be severe consequences for anyone caught with them. Their sentences would be doubled and they would receive kalte kost—bread rations with no hot food. But Corrie was willing to take this risk, for there could be no more precious gift than having access to the holy word.

As her interrogator escorted Corrie back to her cell following their final session together, he provided Corrie with one remarkable act of kindness—he allowed her to see Betsie. In what was surely a break from protocol, he walked Corrie past Betsie’s cell, allowing her to linger long enough for her to catch a glimpse. To Corrie’s astonishment, Betsie had decorated and brightened her cell, just as she had done at the Beje. Even in the grim circumstances of Scheveningen, Betsie’s warmth and cheer could find expression.

Remain Strong

In order to survive a terrible ordeal, you have to be strong. Another one of the life lessons from The Hiding Place is about keeping your strength through adversity. You can do this by finding pockets of joy or turning to faith.

In June 1944, Rahms brought Corrie to a small room at the prison, where she found her family waiting for her. Willem, Flip, and even Betsie were there! The occasion was the reading of Casper’s last will and testament. This unexpected reunion was a bright spot in Corrie’s otherwise dreary sojourn in Scheveningen. 

She learned some important details about the six Jews’ escape from the Beje. After a few days, the soldiers on duty at the Beje had been replaced with ordinary Haarlem police. Rolf then arranged to have the fugitives freed from the hiding place and transferred to other safehouses. Unfortunately, however, the elderly and asthmatic Mary Itallie had been apprehended while she was out walking the streets. Corrie struggled to understand why Mary would have ever exposed herself (and her fellow fugitives) to such danger by moving around in public that way. 

Keep Your Values

It may be easy to think your values aren’t worth it, but that’s the last of the life lessons from The Hiding Place. Stay true to what you believe in as the entire ten Boom family did.

Willem, meanwhile, was severely ill with jaundice due to the unsanitary conditions, malnutrition, and lack of medical care during his stay in prison. Betsie, too, was gaunt and pale from her ordeal. Her nephew Kik, Corrie learned, had been sent to a prison in Germany after he was arrested in connection with his efforts to help a downed American airman reach the North Sea to escape to Britain. Clearly, the family had suffered unimaginable hardship because of their refusal to submit to the Nazi terror.

But Corrie did receive something at this meeting which was to comfort her greatly in the ordeals and tribulations that were soon to come: a Bible from Nollie. It was to be her rock and strength through the storms that lay ahead.

Life Lessons From the Hiding Place: Corrie’s Example

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Here's what you'll find in our full The Hiding Place summary :

  • Why devout Christian Corrie ten Boom decided to stand up to the Nazi occupation
  • How ten Boom and the Jewish neighbors she was hiding were caught
  • How ten Boom survived the concentration camp and left with even stronger faith

Rina Shah

An avid reader for as long as she can remember, Rina’s love for books began with The Boxcar Children. Her penchant for always having a book nearby has never faded, though her reading tastes have since evolved. Rina reads around 100 books every year, with a fairly even split between fiction and non-fiction. Her favorite genres are memoirs, public health, and locked room mysteries. As an attorney, Rina can’t help analyzing and deconstructing arguments in any book she reads.

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