4 out of 4 stars
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You Only Think God is Silent by Julie Ann Allen is the personal account of a recent widow’s journey of faith after her husband’s unexpected death. Prior to the accident, she had the perfect life. Two small children, a loving spouse, and a vibrant church family. She was always busy, but never had trouble hearing God. Then, everything changed. On her birthday, tragedy struck her family. Her husband Elan went to work and never came home. His car was still in the parking lot at his last stop, but no one knew where he was. She prayed for a message from God, but heard nothing. She initially thought she’d lost the ability to hear God, but then realized He had been speaking to her the entire time. She didn’t want to believe her beloved was gone, even though God had told her in her heart that he was. When she recognized her error, God led her and the search party to Elan, giving her closure on his disappearance. This book is about the aftermath of her loss and all the ways God blessed and comforted her once she relinquished control of literally everything to Him. The author details her spiritual transformation from a woman lost in the midst of grief, to one strengthened and restored to happiness by her faith.
This review is one of the hardest and most important ones I will ever write. Due to the deeply personal nature of this book, I feel a sense of responsibility to communicate my thoughts more carefully than in past reviews. This book features the true account of the author’s loss and every dark moment she experienced as she adjusted to life as a single mom. Reading about her family’s tragedy, is difficult and heartbreaking at times. The author’s love for Elan and her sorrow are keenly felt and her connection to God is equally emotional. She writes candidly and factually about what happened. She also explains in detail how she worked through her faith to overcome this period of unimaginable heartbreak. Her ability to transform what she went through into something positive is not only amazing, it affects you on a deep, spiritual level.
The author writes this book out of a desire to help others recognize God’s role in their lives in the midst of tragedy. By using herself as an example and combining her conclusions with scriptural support, she seeks to lead the reader down a path of inward reflection. Her story really makes you think about how you would react if you were in the same situation. Would you blame God? Would you question His existence? Would your faith grow stronger? How would you respond to friends telling you that your pain was “God’s will”? The author explains how God helped her confront these questions and provided solace through self-reflection, revelation, and scripture. Every chapter has an important lesson in faith that she explains clearly through her own experiences and biblical expertise.
After almost every chapter, the book has a section titled “Making it Personal” that invites the reader to focus internally on their own faith. The Bible is a necessary component to getting the full benefit of these sections and completing the exercises. In every chapter she discusses a theme that carries over into Bible study and several pages of questions. Each question allows the reader to reflect on and explore their understanding of God. The exercises invite the reader to recall moments when God took part in their lives, their responses to difficult situations, and ways they have fallen short in their faith. Close to half of the book is made up of these personal sections, so they are an integral part of the entire experience. I really enjoyed doing these exercises and benefitted from the spiritual enrichment I received from the Bible.
The author’s story and her strong command of spiritual matters were so educational for me. She clarified many things I had wondered about and taught me so much about my own relationship with God. While I have not experienced the type of tragedy she has, I have had my own unique struggles that this book helped me with. For instance, the author tells you how to know if you are living within God’s will and what it feels like. When she discussed that topic, I realized I have felt what she was describing and it touched me deeply to finally understand God has been speaking to me. I needed to hear that because I had doubts and questions about whether or not I was doing the right thing. I am thankful to now have confirmation.
Many of the personal experiences the author relates are amazing to read about. Through her grief, she learned to rely on God for the simplest of matters, like getting dressed in the morning. Miraculously, she was always dressed appropriately for whatever she encountered that day. That story reminded me of times the exact things I needed had popped up in my life unexpectedly. I knew they were God-given, but reading about it happening to another believer, strengthens my faith.
Her unique perspective on scripture was also very interesting to read. One of my favorite chapters was her interpretation of the fishing net analogy. She gave me a fresh look at those parts of the Bible that would have never occurred to me. That chapter alone is worth investing time in this book.
This book was very professionally edited and I only noticed two errors. On page 54, she meant to read all the way through Job 2:10, but wrote Job 2:9. On page 138, there is a confusing sentence that needs to be edited. Otherwise, this book has no issues.
I highly recommend You Only Think God is Silent to readers of faith. Regardless of whether or not you have experienced what the author has, you will learn from and be inspired by her resolve. Sad as her story is, it’s still full of hope, faith, and love. Even skeptics could benefit from this book as long as they’re open-minded and interested in understanding the psychology of believers impacted by loss. I rate this book a 4 out of 4 stars. I am thankful, blessed, and feel better from having read it.
You Only Think God Is Silent
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