John Morency’s eyes grow misty as he sings alongside fellow barbershop enthusiasts. It’s moments like this—when he’s touched by a certain melody or lyric—that grief ambushes him. A little over a year ago, John lost his wife Cheryl after a three-year battle with cancer. Although each day brings a fresh swell of mourning, he thinks back to all that God has done to profoundly alter the direction of his life.
When Cheryl had grown too weak to attend church, they turned on the small television in her hospital room and started watching the In Touch program. Every Sunday morning they listened, took notes, and discussed the sermon together. As they did, God began to touch their hearts—healing emotional wounds they never realized they had.
For as long as he could remember, Morency had woken up each morning with an inexplicable anger in his heart. But it wasn’t until the broadcast of Dr. Stanley’s message “Are You Starved for Love?” that he finally understood where it came from. John and Cheryl opened up to each other, sharing painful memories from their previous marriages. They spoke of the inadequacy they’d felt since childhood and learned how to encourage one another.
Now, despite the gaping wound of grief, he is amazed at how the Lord was able to turn such difficulties into diamonds. “In the three years between Cheryl’s diagnosis and death, I grew more as a husband and father than I had in the previous 61 years of my life,” he said. And the growth hasn’t stopped there. “I’m still watching Dr. Stanley,” John said. “Every Sunday, he says something that hits me right in the heart.”
Before Cheryl died, Morency had been a private person. But now he is stepping outside his comfort zone in many ways. Prompted by his counselor, John joined a GriefShare group so he can openly discuss his mourning process and God’s work in his life. He was also encouraged to write out a list of childhood passions. As he did, he noticed that only one of the items included other people—singing.
He signed up for a local men’s barbershop chorus, praying, “God, can I glorify You in this?” Now, every Tuesday night, he joins voices with a group of other men—and despite the tears of grief, John finds a reason to sing.
Photograph by Ben Rollins