“The Lord is high above all nations; His glory is above the heavens. Who is like the Lord our God, who is enthroned on high, who humbles Himself to behold the things that are in heaven and in the earth? He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap, to make them sit with princes, with the princes of His people.” (Psalm 113:4-7, NASB).
Last month, I read a book called The Earth is Full by B.D. Riehl. I don’t spend a lot of time reading Christian fiction these days, but I’m glad I took the time to read this. The story deals with themes of hope and deliverance, two subjects worthy of some consideration.
Riehl develops four main characters throughout the book, each with her own story of oppression (whether imposed by others or self), that the readers follow. Three of the characters are everyday women in varying stages of life, dealing with oppression that is relatively common in first world Christian nations: peer pressure, dissatisfaction with life stages, failing marriages, rebellious children, comparing ourselves to those around us, expecting perfection and failing at every turn. The fourth main character is a young Thai girl sold into the sex-slave trade in Thailand, whose oppressors and experiences are far removed from anything a Western Christian can fully understand. In each character’s story line, we see these women each experience some form of deliverance from their oppression and hope for the future. Some characters’ stories are more well-developed than others, but the honest truth is that by the end of the book, I was left pondering deliverance and hope in my own life.
One of the best parts in the book is in the story of the young Thai girl, Suchin, trapped in slavery. She is sold by her mother in the hopes of providing a better life for her daughter, a hope which is tragically smothered in the first moments of Suchin’s experience with her new employers. Her story will tug at your heartstrings and, at the very least, bring you to your knees in prayer for the thousands of young girls caught up in sex-trafficking around the world. Thankfully, Rhiel is not overly descriptive about the horrors of Suchin’s life in captivity; much is left to the reader’s imagination, which is certainly enough. The moment that struck me, however, was when a group of missionaries whose mission is to save girls from the sex trade approach Suchin and ask if she wants to be free. The question is simple, though astounding to this young captive. “All you need to say is ‘yes’,” they tell her, and everything about your life will change. It takes a few approaches and Suchin’s life worsening to a whole new level of desperation before she is able to hope enough to say yes to these people offering her a new life. Even now, as I remember this storyline, tears fill my eyes as I think of how heartbreakingly similar that experience is to my own.
I’ve never been a sex-slave. I’ve lived a charmed, safe, spoiled life as an American Christian. And yet, I have been a captive. I have been oppressed by sin to the point of deep depression and hopelessness. And Jesus offers such beautiful, free deliverance – all I need to say is “yes,” and my life will be forever changed. How often, though, have I resisted the proffered help from the Lord, the hand up out of the miry clay and instead stubbornly clung to the muck and decay of my sinful life? How often did my circumstances have to get worse before I let myself believe that God had something better for me? The truth is, Suchin’s character is both a representative for all of the young girls literally trapped in sexual slavery and a symbol of every person trapped in a life without Jesus. Her hopelessness and life marked with depravity is the same darkness in which I once lived, before I came to know “that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance” (Philippians 1:9, NIV). Because of Jesus, I can now confidently say, “You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance” (Psalm 32:7, NIV). Now, this does not mean that after being saved, I will have no trouble in my life. It does mean that I will be protected from it; trouble will not overcome me or take me from the hope in which I now live. The darkness may threaten me again, but it will not overtake me, because I have the protection of the Holy Lord now. I will not give in to despair, because my hope is in the help of God’s presence (Psalm 42:5).
It will be interesting to see what Riehl does with these characters in the next book of the series; how will they continually grow in the hope of the Lord? Will they find themselves again in despair, having forgotten all that God provided? Will they really embrace the truth of God’s deliverance? Will I?
If you’re interested in reading the book, you can find it here: The Earth is Full by B.D. Riehl
If you’re interested in more about helping the children taken by the sex-trade, check out Destiny Rescue.