Waves of Mercy

Title:  Waves of Mercy

Author:  Lynn Austin

Pages:  379

Year:  2016

Publisher:  Bethany House

My rating is 5 stars.

The story mostly takes place in Holland, Michigan in 1897. The audience will read about Anna Nicholson in 1897 as well as with flashbacks to the past the life of one of the city’s founders.  It is the city’s 50-year anniversary and the town council has asked all the “old-timers”, the people who originally settled in the area, to write about their memories of that time.  Geesje de Jonge is one of the old-timers.  She is at first reluctant to write her story as there are so many tragedies in her life, but receives encouragement and decides to write her story.

Her story begins in the Netherlands in 1845.  She tells of her life in the Netherlands and how she fell in love with a soldier billeted in her home during a fight between Separatists and the government church.  Due to religious persecution, her parents decide to move to America when she is seventeen.  Geesje is heartbroken to leave her soldier behind, but he has eighteen more months to serve in the military before he is discharged.  They make plans for him to join her in America.  Geesje and her parents and her friend Maarten leave for America.  They face tragedy after tragedy on their journey and trying to survive in this new country.  Geesje has had to make difficult decisions throughout her life and writing her memoir is painful, but cathartic for her.

Anna Nicholson is a young socialite from Chicago who has just had her engagement broken by her fiancé due to religious differences.  She has come to Holland for time away and to regain her footing.  She has many questions about her past as she is adopted and many questions about God.  She meets a young man, Derk, who is in seminary school, studying to be a minister.  They strike up a friendship and talk about God, marriage and faith.  Derk suggests she talk with his Aunt Geesje as she has always been a strong woman of faith and maybe could answer her questions better.  They meet and both of their lives will be forever changed.

This is one of those books that touched my heart in a way I’ll not soon forget.  The grief and sorrow and hardships Geesje endured in her life were astounding.  Even though she got angry with God, she made the conscious choice to cling to him more as each tragedy entered her life.  Her husband Maarten was a man after God’s own heart.  Standing outside of their burned down business and home, after losing everything but the clothes on their backs, he praised God.  I am a fan of Lynn Austin’s God-given ability to write such touching stories that show our human frailty, but always point out God’s sovereignty and love for us.  No matter what trials we face, believers never face them alone.  God is always with us.  He will never leave us or forsake us.  Nothing can separate us from His love.

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