For one year, she found herself stuck in a refrain of three words. “No,” “Yes,” and “Corrie,” was all Cornelia Ten Boom could say after suffering a stroke. For two months she lay in a coma, until she slowly resurfaced, aware but paralyzed. Her third word, “Corrie,” was the name of one of her daughters who would go on to be known as a heroin during World War II and the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands.
Corrie and her family hid Jews within the walls of their home and became ringleaders in the underground movement to protect the Jewish people. It was work for which her family would be thrown into prison, and later, concentration camps. It was a mission her father and sister would ultimately die for. But 20 years before all of this, long before the German invasion, Corrie’s sister, Nollie, was to be married.
In her memoir, The Hiding Place, Corrie writes about the radiance her mother shone that day as Cornelia was helped into the pew by her daughters. Corrie wrote she could imagine no one present would have guessed the gracious and smiling woman in the front pew could neither walk nor speak.
The Ten Boom daughters chose to close the wedding service with their mother’s favorite hymn, Fairest Lord Jesus. As Corrie stood in the pew to sing, she heard an astonishing sound from behind her.
“Behind me in the pew,” Corrie recounted, “Mama’s voice was singing too. Word after word, verse after verse, she joined in, Mama who could not speak four words, singing the beautiful words without a stammer. Her voice which had been so high and clear was hoarse and cracked, but to me it was the voice of an angel.”
The same Jesus whose first miracle took place at a wedding in Cana was carrying out another wedding miracle in a Netherlands’ church nearly 2,000 years later.
Four weeks later, asleep with a smile on her face, Cornelia Ten Boom went home to Jesus. After the miracle at the wedding, Corrie shared the family had hoped, in the words of Fairest Lord Jesus, they were witnessing the recovery of her mother. “But the words she had sung she was not able to say, nor did she ever sing again. It had been an isolated moment, a gift to us from God, His own very special wedding present.”
The same God who wrote Cornelia Ten Boom’s story has written ours also. He created us to know Him and ourselves better as we sing of His goodness. Time and again, as we sing His praise, we are reminded of the miracles He has done from eternity past to our present-day lives. Without a stammer, we find our voice and we use it to proclaim the name of a God who is always good and always near. We can sing, along with Cornelia Ten Boom and a congregation of stunned, teary-eyed witnesses,
“Fairest Lord Jesus, ruler of all nature
O thou of God and man the Son
Thee will I cherish, Thee will I honor
Thou, my soul’s glory, joy, and crown.”