Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.
Matthew 13:45-46 (NIV)
I don’t often wear pearls. But when I do, I remember the struggle.
My husband gave me a beautiful strand of pearls during a hard season of life. It was a lavish gift for a sweatpants-wearing mom who hadn’t left the house in weeks. Our third baby was born prematurely and spent the first months of life tethered to a heart monitor.
There was a new job, a new baby, a new set of challenges, a new season to navigate. And it all made me feel very old (and tired).
The day he brought the wrapped pearls home was the first day we attempted to get me out of the house. I laughed at the gift because they seemed so inappropriate for my dirty hair and weary body. But my sweet husband was determined to celebrate the new things in our lives, even though some of them were hard.
He carefully fastened the lustrous strand around my neck, and I traded my t-shirt for a dressy top. We loaded up the baby and her siblings, the medical gear, and the diaper bag, and drove the two short miles to our favorite restaurant.
Within a few minutes of sitting down, the waiter accidentally dumped the pitcher of sweet tea into my new diaper bag just as a terrible stomach bug was beginning in my preschool son. I carried him to the bathroom, where he got very sick. I propped open the door and tried to wave down a waiter to grab my husband, who was busy mopping up tea, jiggling a fussy baby, and regretting the whole idea.
We left the restaurant before we even ordered — a sad, soggy, stinky mess. We had a puker in the car and a fragile newborn. It was the car ride of nightmares.
I laughed and cried in my pearls the two miles back home.
Every time I see those pearls hanging in my jewelry box or around my neck, I remember that night. The irony of the pearls and the puke weren’t lost on me.
But it took a while for me to remember how pearls are formed.
Pearls are created in oysters due to an irritant, usually a grain of sand. Grit. Pearls are the outcome of struggle. They are rare and priceless, unique and treasured. They are a product of irritation and are created as a defense against something that is hard, something that doesn’t belong.
A pearl is a product of suffering. It is a healed wound.
And it takes perseverance and grit to produce anything. Life is filled with struggle. But the hardship and trials are not wasted. Our struggle is irritating and annoying. Sometimes it’s heartbreaking and horrible. But it’s producing something good within us.
I don’t know what your struggle is today or what it will be tomorrow.
Struggle is a part of living, but when we know we are producing something good, it helps us through it.
So put your pearls on, girl, and thank God in the midst of it. Something good is coming.
God, even when everything seems to be going awry, I see You. I see beauty right in the middle of the hard things, the messiness, the aching, and the fear. I am clinging to the hope that something good is coming, that something good will be produced from the grit and struggle, that there will be treasure to behold after this hardship. In Jesus’ name, amen.