A few months before Christmas one year during college, my mom asked if there was anything in particular I wanted. I told her that I would love a string of pearls. Jewelry is a meaningful gift in our family because it is passed down through generations; for other occasions my grandma gave me a pair of my great-grandmother’s ruby earrings, my grandpa gave me diamond earrings and a unique antique diamond necklace, all of which I still wear to this day. And one day I will pass these things on.
I was so excited to open not just a pearl necklace that Christmas morning, but also a bracelet and matching pair of earrings. As soon as I opened them, my dad immediately asked if I knew how to tell a genuine pearl from an imitation. All I knew was that I wanted to put those pearls on. I handed him the box and he took the necklace and lightly rubbed the pearls along his teeth. I remember looking at him like he was ridiculous and then he said that real pearls feel gritty or sandy, while an imitation would feel smooth. Genuine pearls also have a unique luster and overtones that vary from one pearl to the next. My pearls may not be Mikimoto, but they are gorgeous and the variations and slight imperfections here and there remind me that they are genuine…and they make me smile, recalling what Daddy taught me that day. Sometimes I rub those pearls on my teeth just to remember.
I’ve always been intrigued by the way pearls are formed. Most of us know that when something foreign like a grain of sand or coral enters an oyster shell, it’s quite irritating to the oyster, so the oyster will begin to coat it with several layers of nacre, eventually creating a pearl.
I’m always amazed when I look back on the most difficult times of my life because those times are consistently marked by the most growth and change. That growth may not come right away, but it does come. Take a look at these verses from 1 Peter chapter 1:
6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
In your most difficult seasons, don’t be deluded. It is not the end of you and it doesn’t have to be the end of joy or peace. You can come out better on the other side, in fact. I know because I have. There were days after my dad died that I didn’t know how in the world I would make it to the next day, let alone the next week. It has been over 3.5 years since we said good-bye to him and I can’t even begin to express all the ways I’ve been changed. Yes, there’s been unbelievable pain..but there’s also been miracles in my life that only God could have done. Without a doubt I’m a different person than I was then.
I pray the foreign irritants, troubles, burdens, sorrows and afflictions you face daily become magnificent pearls in the hand of the Father, whether you believe it can happen or not. One day this truth might just be what motivates you.