Robin Jones Gunn published this non-fiction, autobiographical book in 2013. I read the book in 2016. I don’t know that because my memory is great. I know that because when I read books, I leave clues. I record dates and prayers in the margins of books that have special meaning for me in my circumstances at the time, and later I can go back and see if things have changed according to those prayers.
In Robin’s book, Victim of Grace When God’s Goodness Prevails, she ties together Biblical stories of women and her own life stories. She shares the patterns she see’s in their lives that help her relate to how God is writing her story, and ours.
When a childhood dream seems to be taken away, Robin relates her story to the misery of Hannah when she was unable to bear a child. Her dream of motherhood seemed to be taken away. And yet, God redeemed the dream for Hannah and she bore six children in the end. Hannah became a “victim of grace.”
Robin shares the definition of “victim”.
“Victim: (noun) from the Latin, victima, a live sacrifice.” According to Romans 12:1 we are to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice which is pleasing to God and an act of “proper” worship. (see p. 26 and Romans 12:1)
Robin shares that when Eve messed up, God went searching for her and Adam. “He didn’t ignore them and leave them in their terror and misery.” (page 34). They were the first “victims of grace”.
When Abraham sent his servant to find a wife for Issac, Rebekah became the answer to the servant’s prayer. What was the servant’s prayer? He requested God to send a young girl to the well he had arrived at, who when asked for a drink of water for himself, she would graciously offer to water his camels, too. (See Genesis 24:10-28 for the full story.) She responded to the servant with “extravagant graciousness”. “The account says that ‘she quickly emptied her jar into the trough’ and ‘ran back to the well to draw more water”. (Genesis 24:20) Robin does the math. “The servant had ten camels. If those camels had been drained dry on their five-hundred-mile journey, each camel would drink around fifteen gallons of water. Rebekah offered to water the camels ‘until they have finished drinking’ (verse 19 NASB). That could have been a total of 150 gallons of water.” (page 53)
Robin points out that the servant offered praise to God for Rebekah’s service, not to Rebekah herself. When Rebekah woke up that morning, she would never have believed that by the end of the day she would have carried 150 gallons of water for thirsty camels and met the criteria to travel 500 miles to become a wife to a stranger, but of all the stories of marriage mentioned in the Bible, her story is the only one where it says she was loved “very much”. (see pages 54, 56, 57 and Genesis 24:67)
Robin tells a story of a radio interview she participated in. The first question out of the host’s mouth was “… how can you call yourself a Christian and write romance novels?” (page 57)
Her answer: “Well, when I was a teenager, I read a love story that changed my life. It starts off great, but then right away everything falls apart. The Relentless Lover in the story wants his first love to come back to him, but she resists for years….Then, three-fourths of the way through the book, he does everything he can to prove his love to her and persuade her to be his bride, but she’s still rebellious. Finally, in the last chapter, he comes riding in on a white horse and takes her away to be with him forever.”
The host responded, “And how did a story like that change your life?… It sounds like a formula romance to me.”
Robin answered, “Really? Because I was talking about the Bible.” (page 58)
All of us are pursued by God. He remembers us. He wants good things for us. He spreads His grace over us. He wants a relationship.
Robin intertwines her story, our stories, and the Biblical stories of Eve, Sarah, Hagar, Rachel and Leah, Hannah, Ruth, Martha and Mary, and Mary, the mother of Jesus. She shows pictures of grace in stories like Leah, who was unloved by Jacob, but God “saw that Leah was hated” and “opened her womb”.(see Genesis 29:31) Leah gave her first three sons, Reuben, Simeon, and Levi, names with meanings that expressed her knowledge of being unloved and hated. Robin points out that many times, “through no fault of our own, we are where we are, and as hard as we’ve tried, we can’t get others to treat us differently, to show us the kind of honor, love, and respect we feel we deserve. That’s when we must take our focus off ourselves and others and fix our gaze on Father God alone.” (pages 118-119)
Leah is our example. When her fourth son is born she said, “Now will I praise the LORD” (Genesis 29:35 KJV) and she named him Judah. Robin says, “Praise opens the door to a grateful spirit. Leah’s situation didn’t change. She changed. She chose to praise God…”. God blessed Leah for her change of heart and Judah became the line through which Jesus would come, making Leah one of the women in the line of Christ and a victim of His grace. (page 119)
Read the book for more stories of God’s intervention in Robin’s life and the lives of the women in the Bible. Robin has been in hard places and yet come through stronger and more blessed each year.
The last woman from scripture, that Robin mentions near the end of the book, is Noah’s wife. I found Robin’s words intriguing. “What did Noah’s wife do? Apparently she kept her mouth shut and went along for the ride. Now that’s faith right there.” (page 185) “…None of her words were recorded, positive or negative.” (page 187)
“…for the hundred years it took Noah to build the ark, as well as more than a year that Noah’s family was locked up inside of it, not one word that Noah’s wife spoke was recorded. God accomplished his great plan whether they were crazy about it or not.” (page 187)
But, “God remembered Noah….” (Genesis 8:1) (see page 189) which means that God remembered Noah’s wife, sons, their wives, and the animals. Even though Noah’s wife was silent, she received the blessing of life right along with Noah.
Robin and her husband were trying to decide their next steps in life and the desire was in their hearts to move to Maui. Her husband wanted to wait until God made His plans clear to them. Robin says, “I remembered the example of Noah’s wife and chose to do something new and different. I said nothing.” (page 192-193)
They do end up in Maui and come full circle into a time of blessing, peace, and strong service together for the Lord. “Victims of Grace”.
I recommend this book for women struggling with feelings of rejection, bitterness, and life not going the way you had planned. It will press hope into your heart… that maybe, just maybe… you can be a “victim of grace” too.
Has there been a time in your life that God made you a “victim of grace”?
This is one of my favorite Robin Jones Gunn non fiction books. Very inspiring and it reminds me to trust God no matter uncertain things are.