If you’re like me, you’d rather avoid a struggle than embrace it. Especially if you’ve been through a season, or seasons, when it seemed you had to endure more than your fair share of them!
A String of Struggles
I am now approaching the end of a rather long and intense struggle, and I was surprised – and admittedly a bit frustrated – to find that yet another struggle has already begun to appear on the horizon. It’s not the first time I’ve encountered a string of struggles, one after the other. Nonetheless, I suppose I was secretly hoping for a reprieve.
Rubbed the Wrong (or Maybe Right?) Way
As I pondered this irritating fact of life, I remembered something I read once about pearls.
Pearls are known for their rare and classic beauty. They can transform both an outfit and a woman, regardless of how they are worn. But a pearl’s beauty is cultivated by the presence of an irritant which invades an oyster shell. The oyster responds to the irritant by releasing a fluid that gradually builds up over time, until a gem is formed.
The value and the uniqueness of the pearl are directly proportionate to the duration of its struggle with the irritant in its shell. Curiously enough, a cultured pearl undergoes the same process, except that, rather than randomly encountering the irritant in its natural environment, the irritant is purposefully inserted into the oyster shell by a skilled technician.
I wonder if the struggles I continually encounter could be like those irritants in the oyster shell, painfully but purposefully producing pearls to decorate my soul? Maybe even to pass on one day to my daughters and granddaughters, to my dear sisters and friends? I wonder if, when they wear those pearls, they will tell the stories of how they were cultivated, of how I endured a great many struggles for them to be formed?
The Bible compares the Kingdom of Heaven to a pearl of great price, worth selling everything to gain (Matthew 13:45-46). Is it possible for me, and for you, to believe that the King of Heaven could be skillfully and purposefully inserting irritants into the fabric of our lives, gracing us with the struggles intended to produce pearls? Could it be that our struggles, when endured in faith, could possess true value in the Kingdom of God?
A New View
And if this is true, I wonder if we could begin to view our struggles differently? I wonder if, rather than apologizing for the pain and frustration, we might begin to rejoice with one another at the beauty of the gems being formed within our souls.
One day, our daughters will wear the pearls gained from our struggles. And all of Heaven will admire their beauty. And that heavenly admiration will encourage them to embrace their own struggles, and see the cultivation of their own pearls.
This pain, woman of breakthrough, is temporary. The irritation is appointed. The struggle will not be in vain. And you and I are becoming more beautiful by the moment!
Be blessed today in and through your holy struggles. Believe that, soon enough, your new pearl will appear!