Glenn McDonald explains how one of the world’s most beautiful gems comes into existence only when something goes wrong. Pearls are a response to irritation. From time to time a foreign object – perhaps a piece of debris, a parasite, or even a tiny bit of shell – will lodge in the soft tissue of certain species of oysters. The mollusk must respond. Survival may well be at stake.

Oysters neutralize irritations by secreting a form of calcium carbonate called nacre. Nacre smooths the rough edges of the intruder. Coat after coat is applied in a process that may take as long as three years. What happens to the foreign object?  It’s transformed into a lustrous sphere that might even become part of a necklace passed down for generations in your family. Biologists and gem collectors agree this is an extraordinarily effective remedy for irritations.

The same thing can happen to you. Something is going to irritate you today. That something might even be a someone who is sitting not far away right now. Before you go to bed tonight, you’re almost guaranteed to come face to face with an obstacle, a disruption, or a major league annoyance. Let God make something beautiful out of it.

How does that happen? Take the first step. Respond with gentleness instead of exasperation. “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1). Be a non-anxious presence. Speak a word of peace, something that “coats” the situation and smooths the rough edges of runaway emotional turbulence.   

If an irritating bit of flotsam can become a rare gemstone, God can take something that spikes your blood pressure and turn it into a moment of grace. Yes, we may beg and plead to be supernaturally delivered from irritations. But just remember, an oyster that has never been wounded can never produce a pearl. Let’s allow God to use our hurts to heal others!

-Rev Dr William Lewis