By Roxanne Sherwood Gray
I believe a life-changing experience ought to change you.
That sounds obvious. Redundant. I can see the evil editor marking that phrase G.W.S.--meaning "goes without saying." Yet, many people go through a crisis and remain the same. Unchanged.
Unable to be shaped more into the image of the Jesus, which is God's desire for you. Unwilling to discover the joy found on the other side. "Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds." James 1:2.
How sad, tragic even, to miss the lesson.
A long time ago, a friend battled breast cancer. I'm grateful she's a 15-plus-year survivor. Before the victory though, she thanked God for her cancer. Huh? She still had young children who needed her. How could she be thankful for something as insidious, and often deadly, as cancer? Well, she rejoiced in her closer walk with God. She counted her blessings and found a positive balance in the ledger. She discovered joy in her trials. See, she allowed a life-changing experience to change her.
Singer and Songwriter Laura Story wrote the No. 1 worship hit “Indescribable,” recorded by Chris Tomlinin in 2004. Story's debut album won a Dove Award for Inspirational Album in 2008 and earned her two consecutive nominations for Female Vocalist of the Year. She seemed to be living a blessed life.
Story's "Blessings," a popular song on Christian radio, asks:
What if your blessings come through raindrops?
What if your healing comes through tears?
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know you’re near?
What if trials of this life are your mercies in disguise?
With all her success, Story is blessed. However, her life is not without trials. In 2006, her husband, Martin Elvington, was diagnosed with a brain tumor and suffered significant post-operative vision and memory loss. Yet, through trials, Story discovered joy.
My life was changed when my wonderful husband, Jack, died suddenly, leaving me with seven children, ages 1-20. I'm not thankful for his passing or that our children lost a terrific father. But I am thankful for the years we had together. For his testimony. For the legacy he left behind. For the blessing of his life.
I try to live a changed life. I've seen widows who think they own the corner on the market of suffering. Instead, I see past my own pain to a whole lot of broken, hurting people in the world.
I used to be afraid, thinking I needed to protect my children. I thought I could control my circumstances. Now, I relinquish my hold on people, events, and surroundings because I'm not
in control. And guess what? Neither are you.
Recognizing it will bring you a certain amount of peace.
It's like saying: "Let go and let God."
I'm thankful for my new husband, Steve, who had been widowed after losing his wife to cancer. He blesses our family daily. I'm grateful Steve and I have discovered joy after the mourning, living truly changed lives.
Have you experienced a life-changing event? Are you living a changed life? If not, what can you do to live joyfully today?