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An Echo in the Darkness (Mark of the Lion, #2)
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"An Echo In The Darkness" Discussion

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message 1: by Lindsey (last edited Feb 09, 2014 02:15PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lindsey Beck (lindseyjb) Discussion on "An Echo In The Darkness", Christianity, the power of God, and redemption.

Lindsey Beck (lindseyjb) "Her voice had become an insistent presence, echoing throughout the darkness in which he lived."

To set up this discussion, (and to anyone that wants to read this book or the one prior to it *spoiler alert*), the main character Hadassah, a Jewish servant to the wealthy Valerian family in Rome, was sent to the arena to be killed by lions after the person she serves, Julia, finds out she refuses to marry her brother Marcus, who truly loves her, because he is not a Christian and puts her in a situation where she must either recant her faith or die. She, obviously, does not recant her faith. However, by the grace of God, she lives through the attack of the lions and a doctor in Rome nurses her back to life. Marcus, however, does not know she is alive and is filled with despair that his sister had her killed off.

This quote speaks volumes to how the past can sometimes speak louder than God's voice. For someone who is an unbeliever like Marcus, it can be harder to let go of the past because there is not path to take. Can we truly forget the past? The Lord promises to forgive us completely, but does that mean we will never think of the pain, rejection, and betrayal of our past again? I know I personally can still remember times where I felt hurt or betrayed in my past that still echo in my mind, even with knowledge of God's peace that has been offered.

Lindsey Beck (lindseyjb) "Lord, why did you allow this to happen to me?"

In this quote, Hadassah has returned to Ephesus to serve Alexander, the doctor who nursed her back to life after she nearly died in the arena. She is veiled because of her scars so no one but those within the doctor's close circle know her identity. While running an errand, she runs into Marcus, who she loves but chose not to marry for religious reasons, and he does not realize it is her because of her veil. She hurts because she realizes he's still near to her but she cannot go and meet him.

I feel like all of us at some point in our lives have this question. We wonder why God is making us deal with something that feel we haven't deserved. Just because we know that God has a plan and is using a tough situation to make us better doesn't mean we have complete comfort. Hadassah, who is a strong Christian who went to die for her faith, still has this struggle. The question of "Why me?" is so evident in everyone's lives. I know I personally have wondered why God has called me to seemingly impossible tasks or placed me in a horrible situation where I felt like I was attempting to walk through quicksand, but if feel like if I look back on every situation where I felt like that, I could see how God used it for my good.

Lindsey Beck (lindseyjb) "Get off your knees to me! Am I God that you should bow down to me?"

To put this quote in context, Hadassah has just served two sick people and, after meeting with them, she helped them and they were cured. Because Alexander only thinks in medical terms, he thinks that she is a healer that has been singled out by a god. Hadassah gets upset as he bows down to her and asks her to be a physician alongside her because she believes that she does not have power, but God uses her as an instrument for his glory and that is why she could help people.

Alexander has made Hadassah an idol as he worships her. We all read this and mock him, but we all worship something over God, whether it be someone or something. No matter how much we love God, we are human and will always put something in front of Him in our hearts. I feel like a real issue with humanity is that we deny our issues and claim to be complete followers of God. When we see characters like Alexander or people that actually bow down to statues, we revere ourselves and say, "Oh, well, I'm better because I don't do that." But, in reality, we are just as bad as they are but we refuse to acknowledge our sin.

Lindsey Beck (lindseyjb) "Perhaps the answers you seek can't be found in something you can see and touch."

In this quote, Marcus has traveled to Judea to seek Hadassah's God and get his questions about Him answered. While looking for Him everywhere, hoping to discover him, He thinks He is someone you can just see and then you will know He is real and can talk to him. While traveling to her hometown, he meets a shepherd boy and talks to him about traveling. The shepherd boy responds that you cannot always see God, but you can feel Him.

I feel like so many Christians seek God in the wrong way, including myself. We ask Him to reveal Himself forgetting that He already has, but we aren't listening. We often, like Marcus, cannot interpret God in the right way because we are too busy telling Him what we want, making Him a magic genie that we think will grant our every need. When we actually stop and listen for God and seek Him for unselfish reasons, perhaps we could find Him and not write Him off like most do when they find the task of finding God hard. Not being able to see God makes the journey harder, but without faith, would the journey be as beautiful?

Lindsey Beck (lindseyjb) "People see the mark of the lion on her. They fail to see what it means."

In this part of the novel, Rashid, who has found Alexander and Hadassah and chosen to be Hadassah's personal protector, questions why Hadassah wears a veil over her face and claims "she is ashamed" of her wounds and that is why she wears it. However, Alexander understands that Hadassah does it not because she wants to glorify herself, but God. She knows that people misinterpret her scars.

I understand why Hadassah wears a veil because people are so quick to judge and glorify or demote others based on appearance. They refuse to get to know the person inside because they are so quick to write them off because of the way they look. Humanity is so cruel, because we don't get to know the people underneath their outward appearance. I also feel like certain aspects of our character that we want to use for God can also be misinterpreted, such as Hadassah's scars. When we want others to see God, they see what we've done. It's like fame in Hollywood. Christians are changed by fame and become fractions of themselves. People if people wore veils, not to cover up who they are but to be able to glorify God and be humble.

Lindsey Beck (lindseyjb) "When you came to him, He poured out blessings upon you... He will never abandon you, my lady... I pray that God reveals his love for you in ways that will give you new purpose."

In this quote, Phoebe, the mother of Marcus, the man Hadassah loves, and Julia, the person who Hadassah served before she sent her to the arena, has fallen ill after a seizure. Because she now works for Alexander, the physician, she, along with Alexander and Rashid, come to diagnosis her. Hadassah asks them to leave her alone with Phoebe and she reveals her identity to her, which causes them both great joy. Hadassah discovers that Phoebe is a Christian, and she encourages her in her faith.

I personally love this quote because it is a great reminder about how much God loves us. This truth encourages me in my own faith because we often need to remember that God is there for us and will never leave us despite the fact that we constantly mess up and fall short of His glory. However, there is one part of this quote that I'm not completely sure is Biblical. I do not pretend to know all of the Bible, in fact, I'm sure I know a whole lot less than a ton of people, but I do not thing God gives us "new purpose" but we just hit a twist in the path of the old one. He has had a complete purpose for us from the time the Earth was created: to say someone needs "new purpose" to me is rather offensive. It's saying, in my opinion, that God's plan needs to be fixed.

Lindsey Beck (lindseyjb) "What does this God of yours want from you other than every drop of your blood?" "Obedience." "Obedience... At what cost?" "Whatever the cost."

Prior to the start of this quote, Marcus has entered Judea, and Jews hate Romans, so, therefore, they hate him. A group of Jews beat him and leave him in a ditch, where a family puts their religious differences aside, finds him and rescues him. Marcus discusses religion with Ezra, the father of the family, and Marcus is clearly angry because of Hadassah's death. Ezra tells him this quote as an answer to his many questions, including why God lets people who serve Him wholeheartedly die.

This calling in the Bible is so hard for me. I hate leaving my comfort zone, but I want to listen to the Lord. I wish I had such a strong faith that I could literally be unafraid to die for the Lord, whether that be literal or figuratively. But, it's hard to imagine a place where one has to die for their faith because we live in America. But, the Bible does say someday that all Christians will be persecuted before Christ comes back, so it could happen. I already feel like the country is losing its Christian roots because there is more and more evil in the world as a result of technology and the dangers it brings. Not to say there was no evil before, I just feel like the coming of Christ is getting closer as the world becomes more evil.

Lindsey Beck (lindseyjb) "I've seen so many doctors, I'm sick of them! I've been to every temple there is! I've prostrated myself and pled for mercy before a dozen idols. I've impoverished myself with buying votive offerings from blood sucking merchants. What good has it done me? What good, I ask you? What good?!"

In this scene, Julia, who has come down with a very serious illness. Because she is not a Christian, she has been falling for the idea that these false idols she believes in can heal her, and is extremely distraught that they haven't healed her already. Out of the blue, her dead husband's servant reappears after escaping from the household a time before, claiming that even though the going was tough, he wants to do the right thing. After talking with her about her illness, he suggests she goes to see a doctor, and we see Julia's frustration and confusion.

I feel like at one point we are all like Julia. When something goes wrong, we turn to earthly things for comfort, but they give us no hope. They are not the Healer, so they cannot heal. We want comfort we can see with our eyes, so the idea of God, who we cannot see, being our main comfort frightens us. But, when we surrender to the Lord and experience the hope He can give to us, it will be hard to turn back to those things we turn to again because we realize the depth at which they do not satisfy.

Lindsey Beck (lindseyjb) "I've come to ask if I may stay with you and take care of you, Lady Julia."

Hadassah (who is still working under the identity of Rapha) finds out that Julia, the person who she served that sent her to the arena to die, has fallen ill after visiting her with Alexander to diagnose her. She realizes that God has called her to return to her and serve her even after all that Julia did to her. However, she will not reveal her identity to her yet.

I find this scene so powerful. How could Hadassah go back and serve someone that tried to have her killed for her faith? How does she love her so much even after her cruelty? And, even a minute into their conversation, she already claims in her "Rapha" identity that she believes in Jesus Christ even after she knows what happened last time she said that to her. I have to question my own faith: Would I be willing to serve someone that should be my enemy? That has hurt me? Tried to kill me? Honestly, I don't know what I would do in that situation but I would hope that my faith would be that strong where I could be able to this because I know God is on my side.

Lindsey Beck (lindseyjb) "The water became rougher and colder... a wave struck him and he breathed in water. Choking, he instinctively struggled for life even while craving death. As consciousness began to slip away... he heard his name spoken."

Marcus, who is still in Judea seeking to find the God of Hadassah, has gone down to the sea because he has found out that Hadassah loved the sea. He begins to swim and starts to drown. While he basically drowns, he hears God's voice. He lives and then this experience brings him to realize that God is the real God and the pagan idols he believed in before are meaningless.

I love this scene in the novel because I think it's so awesome that God saved him while he was dying physically and emotionally. God does the same for us each and every day. While we mess up and are dead in our souls because of the sin we commit, God renews us and washes away everything that we've done. I think of this verse from Romans that says that "while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." It's an incredible thing that a God so perfect came to die so imperfect people that constantly turn away from Him could have life. I feel so undeserving of this kind of love and mercy because I am, quite honestly, someone that God probably shouldn't have saved because I constantly fall short of His glory. It makes me more grateful and happy that God would choose to save me and Jesus chose to endure the greatest pain with me in mind.

Lindsey Beck (lindseyjb) "I suppose, in your opinion, that God loves my sister too and has a purpose for her life, such as it is..."

Hadassah and Julia has moved into Phoebe (Julia's mother's) villa and Marcus, who Hadassah still has strong feelings for, is there. Marcus still does not know that Azar (Hadassah's new name because she hates the name Rapha, which means Healer because she believes it is God who heals) is Hadassah. Although he believes in God now, he still has such strong hatred towards her sister. He believes she deserves to die after sending Hadassah to the arena. Julia has picked up on this hatred and is hurting tremendously.

How often does our selfishness hurt someone else? Marcus is blind to the fact that Julia is a young woman filled with so much guilt and regret and is extremely lonely. Yet, he refuses to see this because he is upset she killed off the love of his life. We often do the same thing. We refuse to look into the lives of people because we want to continue ignoring them to protect our hearts. But, how much worse will it be if something tragic happens to that person because no one would just take a minute and listen and love them? God calls us to love everyone, whether we care for them or not.

Lindsey Beck (lindseyjb) "For her sake and yours, forgive her for whatever she's done." "You don't know what she's done..." "Nothing is so terrible it can't be set aside in the name of love, in the name of God." "It's because of love I can't forgive her."

While in the city, Marcus was stabbed by Hadassah's protector, and Hadassah/Azar has come to care for him. While she is caring for him, he questions about her identity and notices that she is kind of nervous around him. She brushes off his questions, but tells him that he needs to forgive his sister for everything she has done to him. Marcus won't let go and forgive because he believes Hadassah is dead and cannot get over the heartbreak.

Forgiveness is so hard, but it actually hurts us when we choose not to forgive because what the person has done to us hurts too much. Like Marcus, we don't want to surrender what hurts us and forgive because we are scared we might actually have to love the person. But, God calls us to love no matter how much it hurts us. Forgiving people is actually such a freeing process if we just choose to endure the initial pain. When we forgive other people, we are free from the bondage that their mistakes hold on us. Sometimes we cannot even forgive ourselves, which is almost harder than forgive others because we undergo a mental battle between the truth of God and the lies of Satan.

Lindsey Beck (lindseyjb) " 'How can I deny He exists when only He could have saved you from death...' For the first time she could remember, hope swept over her."

Hadassah has revealed herself to Julia and told her that she has forgiven her. Marcus has also told Julia that he has forgiven her. Julia, finally realizing that God gives people the power to forgive, accepts God as her Lord and Savior. After this, she feels free and light, but then she dies. Hadassah is overjoyed because she knows she is going to heaven to be with Jesus.

This goes to show that God can save everyone. Julia was drowning in so much sin and guilt because of the evil life she lived, and yet God took her and redeemed her despite everything she did. The part I don't understand is what happens when people confess they love Jesus right before they die. What is heaven like for them? Is it different than if people have believed and served the Lord for longer? Maybe that's an unbiblical question but I've wondered that. Also, was Julia's faith because Hadassah is alive or because she truly believes there is a God? I just wish RIvers hadn't had her die just after she accepted Christ. I really wanted to see if Julia grew in her faith and what she would do with her new beliefs. But, instead, we as readers see none of this.

Lindsey Beck (lindseyjb) "When the lion took you down, I felt my own life go out of me. Everything that meant anything- everything that matter-was stripped away, like dust before a wind. I blamed Julia. I blamed myself. I blamed Jesus."

After Hadassah has left the villa, seeing Julia has accepted Christ and Phoebe has granted her her freedom, she returns to Alexander. Marcus finds out she has left and is extremely upset. He chases after Hadassah to tell her the truth about his love for her and his transformation through Christ. He proposes to her and they get married.

We often too blame Jesus when bad things happen in our life because of our doubting nature. We just want someone to be a scapegoat for our troubles, but why do we choose Christ, who died for us when He didn't even have to? Why do we blame others when we clearly are still sinners? God says that our troubles make us better people. Why do we not take that mindset? We just assume that when troubles happen we are being punished or God doesn't like us. Those are just lies from Satan. If we choose to have the mindset that what doesn't kill us makes us stronger and God is not hurting us but helping us, we can live a fuller life. We won't be held bondage by trouble because we know that God is bigger than them and will use them for good.

message 16: by Mac (new)

Mac Keck | 2 comments In my book, The Lone Survivor, Marcus Luttrell goes through many hardships with his fellow Navy SEALs in Afghanistan, and as a result of these hardships he gains some interesting perspective on society, and what it takes to make it in Afghanistan: “These men of the special forces have had other optinos in their lives, other paths, easier paths they could have taken. But they took the hardest path, that narrow causeway that is not for the sunshine patriot. They took the one for the supreme patriot, the one that may require them to lay down their lives for the United States of America. The one that is suitable only for those who want to serve their country so bad, nothing else matters. That's probably not fashionable in our celebrity-obsessed modern world. But special forces guys don't give a damn about that either.....They are of course aware of a higher calling, because they are sworn to defend this country and to fight its battles.”

Luttrell believes that one needs to have utter dedication and commitment to be able to do what he and his comrades do on a daily basis, and their hard work and undeniable results are living proof of that.

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