My friend, Cathy, showed up one day sporting an eye patch. She’s a stellar athlete who has triumphed over hard-hitting competition, but thanks to a tiny grain of sand that scratched her cornea, she was kept on the sidelines, out of the action. A microscopic irritant grated against the delicate tissue producing redness and tears and would ultimately cause permanent destruction if not removed.
But take that very same grain of sand, that source of irritation to the eye, place it in an oyster, and something magical happens. When that irritant is caught inside the oyster’s shell, the oyster starts to secrete a substance called nacre. This substance coats the irritant and encapsulates it. According to Wikipedia, “Nacre, also known as mother of pearl, is strong, resilient, and iridescent. This substance is called ‘mother of pearl’ because it is literally the ‘mother’, or creator, of true pearls.” What begins as an irritating annoyance is transformed. The insignificant grain of sand has become a valuable pearl.
It’s important to note that the irritant in the eye is exactly the same as the one in the oyster. What is different is the response! Scripture is clear that God allows tribulations in our lives. Jesus said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) The phrase, “you will have trouble” is sandwiched between “you may have peace” and “take heart. I have overcome the world!”.
If you have someone, or something, in your life that is a source of irritation, it can suck the joy and peace right out of you. Just the sight of that person can raise all sorts of emotions. Just the reminder of that difficult situation can cause physical responses such as tightening of the muscles, headaches, stomach pains … do I need to go on?
Like sand trapped inside an oyster, whatever your source of irritation, it can be transformed into a valuable pearl. You can be “strong, resilient and iridescent” (reflecting the light), receiving your irritation as the beginning of a beautiful transformation in your life. Surround the grain with beauty and grace. Forgive them for being themselves. They really don’t know what they are doing. (Luke 23:34) If you recognize that God allowed this person or situation for your benefit, you will be creating pearls!
Don’t let yourself be troubled by what really is a small matter compared to eternity! Allow that nuisance to bring about transformation – Christlikeness – the most precious, priceless, valuable quality you could ever possess.
For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. 2 Cor. 4:17-18
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