Today we honour the memory of Blessed John Dominic de Banchini, another Dominican who almost didn’t make it into the novitiate, because he had a tendency to stammer and stutter. In one of his letters he wrote that his speech impediment threatened to limit his vocation, but through the intercession of Saint Catherine of Siena he was healed. John Dominic was created a cardinal in 1407 and became archbishop of Ragusa in Italy in 1408. John Dominic’s life was one of holiness and of great influence in the Church and in the Order and his life revealed the power of God’s grace. His simple trust in God and his perseverance are a source of inspiration to Dominicans and to all people. He died on 10th June 1420 and was beatified in 1837.
After defeating the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel, Elijah’s life was in danger and he fled from Queen Jezebel’s wrath, which thundered on the horizon like a threatening storm. Weary and discouraged, yet poised at a new chapter in his prophetic ministry, Elijah needed to hear God’s voice; and God’s messenger promised that he would. But it was only after Elijah had passed through the storm that he was able to hear God’s voice in a “tiny whispering sound” (1 Kings 19:12).
Elijah’s story offers some encouraging insight into how we can hear God speak to us. In our natural desire to avoid stressful or challenging situations, we may think that the only way to hear God’s voice is in picturesque, quiet moments, or during a retreat when we are secluded and free to spend time with him in prayer or meditate on his word. Of course, those times are essential, but they are not the only way God speaks. And neither are they always the most effective way.
In fact, God often uses the storms of life to help us find his presence and his wisdom. Life is not picture-perfect. We know what it’s like to feel buffeted by forces beyond our control and by situations that affect our work or our health, or our vocation. Our foundation gets shaken by problems we can’t fix, and that can unnerve us.
But there’s always a hidden blessing in these tough situations which can bring us to our knees. It’s when we find ourselves nearing the end of our strength, as Elijah did, that we are more likely to listen for that still small voice. We sense that we need God in the midst of whatever storm is swirling around us.
The surprising thing about making it through the storms of life is that we can look back and realise God has been with us all along. As he promised, “Behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age,” and God is always true to his word (Matthew 28:20).