Christian Themes

(Literary Essentials: Christian Fiction and Nonfiction)

The Dawning of Deliverance uses its characters’ struggles and triumphs to examine questions of doubt, conversion, faith, and the nature of God. A rapidly moving story is set against dramatic events and a simply sketched background. Characterization can be superficial (Pella’s Russian aristocrats are more like twentieth century Americans), dialogue is wooden, and the style is pedestrian. Also, the historical background is not utilized in any depth. This book is clearly a historical romance designed to entertain, with no literary pretensions, although it does bear a message for its readers.

The message, designed to uplift a people in a difficult world, is that God understands people’s doubts and questionings. Daniel seeks God for some time after the death of his father, then loses focus in the everyday busyness of his life. Ashamed of seeming a foul-weather Christian, one who only approaches God when life is painful, he hides his spiritual failures from Mariana, whose tranquility he envies. In the Japanese prison camp, Daniel dreams of a tentmaker and the line “It’s not easy to kick against the pricks.” He is reminded of the references to the apostle Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus and realizes that the God who had steadily pursued him, even in sleep, will not condemn him for unavoidable human weaknesses. He accepts his human fallibility and God.

Anna, Mariana’s foster mother, had been told by her father in a previous volume in the series that she is to bear the family’s burdens but will not be called on to do so unaided by God. The death of her husband makes her angrily question God’s treatment of her, a woman who loves God. Only in the novel’s last scene does she accept that she still has much for which to live.