I will thank the Lord with all my heart as I meet with his godly people. How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in him should ponder them. Psalm 111:1-2 NLT

Monday, April 2, 2012


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?

~Roxanne Sherwood


  1. Roxanne, truly a beautiful post. Thanks so much for the reminder to look for and choose joy in the midst of suffering.

    I know I've said it before, but walk through the vally of infertility changed my life, my view of God and His faithfulness and His sovereignty (and love) poured out in my life. It's given me greater empathy for others walking through trials. And, He's taught me to walk in joy through the trials that come into my life.
    Thanks for your insights today!

  2. Thanks, Roxanne, for this wonderful post! I really needed it today. Blessings~~~

  3. I will never stop being moved and inspired by your story, Roxanne.

    I hope I'm living a changed life. I haven't been through mega tragedies, but I've had my emotional times. And I pray God has used those seasons to shape me into someone new.

  4. Hi, Jeanne!

    It's interesting how trials can leave us bitter and angry. Or we can become sensitive to those suffering around us. We can be compassionate as God desires for us.

    You've certainly learned those lessons, because you're very sweet.

    Thanks for sharing your story too!

  5. Jackie,

    I don't know what you're facing today, but I'm glad to offer a word of encouragement. God is bigger than all your trials.

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

  6. Funny, I was thinking yesterday how my life changed when my husband died 15 years ago after 29 years together. I went from a purposeful life of caring for him to a blank slate. But God is good...He gave me a new purpose and for the first time I discovered who I was apart from anyone else. He drew me closer to Him, so yes, I totally agree God can bring joy from ashes!
    Great post, Roxanne.

  7. Hi, Melissa!

    Thanks for your encouragement. Just before posting this, Steve asked if I share my story here a little too often. I hope that's not the case.

    With your job, you see people every day who make you thankful for God's grace.

    And Ollie is a huge life changer for all of us! (Keep posting photos!)

  8. Pat,

    I didn't know you before, but I truly admire the woman you are today. I think you posted recently that you're the busiest woman you know, doing so many purposeful things.

    I'm sorry for your loss, but what a testimony of how God has drawn you close. Beauty for ashes--love that!

  9. I love that song by Laura Story. So true. So powerful.

    When my mom died of cancer, I was only 19. At first, I was angry, wondering how God could do that to me. But I've found the biggest blessing in God's nearness. It was always there, but I never needed to discover it until I had nowhere else to turn.

  10. Lindsay,

    When we're raw, vulnerable, desperate, He meets us and brings us out of our despair. I love that about God. I'm glad you feel Him near.

    I'm so sorry for your loss. Thanks for stopping by.

  11. I always love to hear your story, Roxanne.

  12. Very profound, Roxanne! A nasty brain aneurism about a year and a half ago profoundly changed my life. I see tidbits of blessings in it, but I'm still dealing with the effects. To rejoice today, I have to remember that God sees things that I don't. A friend recently said to me, "If we knew all that God knows, we would want His will too."

  13. Beautiful post, Roxanne. My niece shared this song with me a couple of months ago. I had heard it before, but while listening to it with her, I really heard it.

    I haven't had a life-changing tragedy as you have, Roxanne, but we've had a few life-changing events that really shook my faith. I know God is with us every step of the way. I know he continues to provide for us.

  14. Truly a beautiful post. You could feel the truth in every word. I am so thankful for God's faithfulness during your time of mourning and finding new joy. I am also thankful for the truth you just shared so eloquently. People need to be reminded that these times of trials and sometimes devastation, can bring about good in ours and other's lives.

    Don't want to re-preach your message so I'll just say, I was touched and encouraged. Thank God for you :)

  15. Love the post today. Glad you found someone else to love and who loves you!

  16. I've experience life-changing events ... and been changed by them. Sometimes it takes awhile for the joy -- the gratitude -- to show up.
    And I've watched you walk through your life-changing events ... and seen you choose faith. And hope.