Listening for God's Voice
A review of Teresa Tomeo's new book Listening for God: Discovering the Incredible Ways God Speaks to Us
+JMJ+ This wasn’t supposed to happen. How often have we said this when something difficult has happened?
Where is God in all of this anyway? How often have we asked that question?
Most of us will probably never be able to fully grasp and accept the fact that, despite having a perfect God, we live in a world where there is suffering. We all experience hardship at one time or another and in one way or another. While we may never truly understand the “whys” of suffering (other than knowing that suffering is a result of original sin), the truth is that we are not always called to understand but rather to trust in God regardless of the difficult circumstances in which we may find ourselves.
There are no two ways about it, though: trusting in God and surrendering all to Him can be tough. Equally difficult can be recognizing His voice and presence in the midst of chaos and suffering. Sometimes when we are in the middle of turmoil, we fail to heed the sound of His voice or those special glimmers of grace (as I like to call them) He sends us to reassure us of His love. However, these consolations - big or small - can make all the difference and are often the the reason we keep putting one foot in front of the other. These glimmers offer that burst of light in the darkness. These glimmers offer us hope!
In my friend Teresa Tomeo’s latest book, Listening for God, we hear from numerous individuals about some of the special, often life-changing, ways God has spoken to them. I am certain that, upon reflection, any one of us could add our own stories to this book. Certainly in my own life I can recall a number of particular instances in which God has shown me His love and presence. In my experience as well as in the experiences of many of the people in Teresa’s book, we do not often recognize God’s voice as that of thunder but, rather, He is most often heard as a gentle, small voice. Indeed, these stories serve as a reminder that God is not often silent and never abandons us.
You may be asking, “Ok, I feel God is speaking to me, but now what? How do I respond?” In her book, Teresa also offers reflections and lessons for readers to learn from. I promise that you will come away with a better, clearer idea of how to open your mind and heart to recognizing God’s voice.
Teresa's book in and of itself felt like God speaking to me. I packed it in my hospital bag just days before I delivered our fourth child, not realizing just how much I was going to need to be reminded of God's love, mercy, and presence in the coming days. Between a difficult labor that almost turned into an emergency C-section, to a genetic heart condition in our newborn son, to a stay in the NICU, at times I felt alone and abandoned. On more than one occasion I said aloud, “God, why have you abandoned me? Why aren't you answering our prayers?”
I picked up Listening for God in the NICU out of desperation, in a moment when I felt completely overwhelmed, tired, angry and frustrated. As I sat - shaking with exhaustion and eyes full of what seemed like never-ending tears - beside monitors hooked up to my precious newborn, I prayed, "Ok, Lord, I have no idea where you are in all of this but please speak to me in some way...I could really use a glimmer of your grace right about now!" I opened to a random page of the book and read,
"Do what God asks you to do. We may not always see His results, but we've still planted the seed He has asked us to plant. His plan is greater than our own knowledge...let God work! And pray, pray, pray!" (Listening for God, Page 83).
This was followed by a quote from one of my favorite saints, St. Padre Pio,
"Pray, hope, and don't worry. Worry is useless. God is merciful and will hear your prayers."
Oh, how I desperately needed to read those words! In that moment, I had felt close to despair but those words were a saving grace. They gave me the surge of energy I needed to keep going. Those words and the short story that followed felt like God speaking directly to me - truly a glimmer of grace that brought me tremendous reassurance and hope. In that moment, God gave me the grace to hear His voice and it was just what I needed to hear. Talk about a "God moment!"
There is a greater power far, far greater than any of us and that greater power can work miracles. Sometimes those miracles aren’t exactly what we pray and hope for and we are not always going to understand why. But we aren’t called to understand. We are called to have faith and to trust and surrender and to open our minds and hearts to His voice. There may be times when we don't recognize God's voice right off the bat but, even in those dark times, we are called to quiet ourselves, tune out the busyness of the world around us and of our own inner turmoil, and listen for it.
What a comfort it is to know that our loving Heavenly Father sees and understands everything we are going through. He shares every struggle and every joy. Personally, I don't know what's going to happen next or what Our Lord has planned for our family, including our new son but I do know that, despite the frustrating, uncertain, and sometimes doubtful moments, He is holding us and taking care of us.
He is taking care of you too! You are so precious and so loved and He will never leave your side! All Our Lord asks is that you say "YES" to Him.
Thank you, Teresa Tomeo, for yet another inspiring and beautiful book that is sure to bless many lives! My prayer is that all who read this book will be reminded to always keep their minds and hearts open to listening to God's voice and that readers will be reassured that they never suffer alone.
Come, Holy Spirit!
"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."
2 Corinthians 12:9
To order your copy of Listening for God, you can go HERE (non-commissioned link).
Disclaimer: this post is in no way sponsored by Sophia Press. I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest feedback and am simply sharing my thoughts in this blog post.