My great-grandmother’s name was Pearl. I have a picture of her with my grandmother, mother, my daughter and me (five generations together). In reflecting on a pearl, the precious jewel for which my great-grandmother was named, I considered how such a beautiful product of nature comes to be. Pearls are formed when an irritant like a parasite or piece of shell works its way into an oyster, mussel or clam. As a defense mechanism, a fluid is used to coat the irritant. Several layers form a coating called nacre which results in a beautiful pearl. This process takes several years and cannot be rushed.
How often do we have irritants in our lives? Of course, we all have them, sometimes multiple times a day. What do we do with them? Do we spit them out? Complain about them? Ignore them? Get grumpy and upset and take it out on everyone else? Or do we coat them with God’s word? Do we allow them to form the character of Christ in our lives? Romans 8:28 reminds how God uses even the difficult things (irritants) in life to bring good out of them, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”
I struggle with irritants but have been reminded lately that my response often exposes weaknesses in my life. I’ve learned the hard way that if I ignore them, they do not go away. Instead I end up with a much bigger problem that festers and becomes worse than the original irritant. If a difficulty stumbles across my day (or barrels in full force) and if my response is not in line with scripture, God is showing me what needs to be corrected. I can use those times to improve, to turn to my Savior and allow Him to coat those problems with His Word. If I allow Him to do that work, if I submit to “layering coats” of time in His Word, in prayer and listening to the Holy Spirit’s still, small voice, God can create a pearl that brings glory to Him.
I’m not sure if I will ever enjoy seeing troubles cross my path, but if I see them as opportunities to become the building blocks of a pearl, I may be able to respond in a way that allows God the opportunity to create a beautiful gem that will honor Him.