Every year around this time, I read Redeeming Love. And by every year, I mean the last three years…because that’s when I first heard about the wonder of Francine Rivers. It’s a strange choice to read around what is supposed to be the hap-happiest season of all. But that’s fine. It’s wonderful and everyone should read it. It’s one of those books I buy all of my friends because I want them to love it as much as I do.
This book was one of my first looks at the sex industry. It was quite eye opening to hear an account, albeit fictitious, of the deception, mistreatment, and business of sex trafficking. It’s heartbreaking and certainly not very Christmasy but if you’re even the slightest bit curious or intrigued by this topic, you should read the book. I’ll be recommending a couple other books throughout the month.
So, Redeeming Love is a retelling of Hosea and Gomer’s story. Hosea was a biblical prophet God told to marry a prostitute. So he did. And she left him and came back and conceived a few kids along the way (some Hosea’s and one not), and she left again and came back again. For a good long while, she didn’t love him. Sad story, right? Well this relationship was representative of God’s disfunctional relationship with the people of Israel. They were unfaithful, unreliable, and unbelievable. But it happened.
Redeeming Love is set during the Gold Rush. Little Sarah is trafficked as a mistress, then forced into prostitution. This is her lifestyle until Michael Hosea steps in. He is patient, gracious, and resilient. He helps Sarah see herself as God sees her. Loved, valued, accepted, in spite of her past and her own feelings toward herself.
I love this story. The first time I read it, I bawled because I was Sarah. I felt ashamed and too far gone and unfaithful to my God. I was untrusting and skeptical. I didn’t know how to accept grace and mercy. As the title suggests, there is such as thing as redeeming love. It exists and is a beautiful thing to behold. This is the sort of thing I want to share with trafficking victims. Because it pains me to know they think they are worthless because they’ve been used and abused by far too many people. Because it’s awful this is even an option in the first place. Because this life should contain more than the four walls of a brothel bedroom. Because the love we think we deserve isn’t the love God offers up. His love is greater, deeper, fuller, and better than anything we can imagine. He loves with a scandalous, redeeming love.