The parable of the pearl of great price in Matthew 13:45-46 says, "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."
What is God Saying About "Pearls"?
I was getting ready for church on Sunday and putting some jewelry on. I had a thought...to wear my pearls which I hadn't worn in several years. I couldn't find my real ones and decided I just didn't want to wear the fake ones, even though it is a prettier necklace. When I got to church, I was noticing my friend's earrings and necklace, which were pearls. They reminded me of the ones I wore when I got married. When I told her about my foiled plans to wear my pearls, she proceeded to tell me that hers were a replica of Liz Taylor's that Richard Burton had bought for her, supposedly some of the most costly pearls. This is what the Chicago Tribune said:
Elizabeth Taylor wears the rare inch-long La Peregrina, "the wanderer," pearl given to her by Richard Burton. The pearl passed through the hands of European rulers for years until Burton bought it for her for $37,000 in 1969. The pearl meant freedom for the slave who found it off Panama in the mid-16th century.
Sensing that God was speaking to me, I did some further research on the pearl and found that a pearl is made through an arduous process during which a tiny sandstone finds its way under an oyster shell, and it is so irritating to the oyster that it works on the stone, and eventually the sandstone becomes a beautiful, shiny pearl.
The pearl itself is a beautiful, single entity, formed through suffering in the heart of the oyster and are certainly priceless and precious to the one who finds them. To find 50 perfectly matched pearls for a 16-inch necklace, the pearl processor may have to sort through 10,000 pearls. Pearls come in a variety of colors. Natural colors are due to the breed of mollusk. Other things that influence the look of the pearl include diet, water temperature, and pollutants. It is a very time-consuming business to harvest pearls. Of the millions of oysters and mussels seeded each year, only a proportion (maybe just 50%) will survive to bear pearls. Of these, many will not produce pearls of a marketable quality. No wonder they are very expensive.
Oyster: "The word oyster is used as a common name for a number of different families of saltwater clams, bivalve molluscs that live in marine or brackish habitats." (Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, en.m.wikipedia.org)
As I was reading all of this, it reminded me of how Believers suffer through trials of discomfort and the time it takes to develop our character and the fruits of the Spirit. For many, this pain seems to be getting even more vigorous during this time of transition when I believe breakthrough is about to take place. A prophetic voice, Anthony Grier, recently told me and my husband that God was allowing a Matthew 3:12 winnowing and threshing process in our lives. At that time I had no idea I would learn more from God with the example and parable of the pearl.
Why Do We Have to Go Through All of the Hurt and Pain?
As I thought about the process, I wondered why God would choose the symbol of the pearl for the Church? Why didn't He use the ruby or the diamond, or any other jewel? The pearl is the only jewel which is produced by a living being. A pearl is the response of an oyster to something which causes it injury or discomfort or irritation. You might say a pearl grows out of hurt or pain. Thank goodness God is in the business of healing people's hurt and pain.
Over the last 20 years I personally have become more aware of the sufferings Believers go through in order to become the parts of the Body He has called us to be. There is a great price for freedom. What I have found that is so disappointing during all of this...is that we as Christians not only hurt ourselves but hurt each other during this process.
"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." John 10:10
The enemy seemingly often uses people to fulfill this Scripture. It is so easy to become offended with each other. The offense causes us to become blind, which then often leads to our making what we think are godly choices...but, in fact, are choices that satisfy our own fleshly needs or desires. So, in ignorance, we continue doing the things that are hurting and destroying ourselves and others. Why is it such a struggle to get along with others, and why does it take so much work?
We ask ourselves this question and say, Why do we have to go through all of the hurt and pain? Because, in the process, the Lord is working out all the defects in His Church, healing all the hurt and the sorrow, delivering little by little, and bringing about a glorious Church, a Church without spot or blemish, likened to a glowing, translucent, beautiful pearl which will be a manifestation of the glory of God.
Notice how Paul expresses this in his letter to the Ephesians. In chapter 2:4 he says:
"But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and made us sit with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the coming ages He might show the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God – not because of works, lest any man should boast" (Ephesians 2:4-9 RSV).
This is a great Scripture to remember when you are going through times of hardship and difficulty, especially when you are going through difficult personal relationships. In the process of that, through the heartache and the hurt, in His ministry to us, our Lord is turning what seems injurious into a translucent, glowing, beautiful pearl.
When I am Weak, Then He is Strong
God is continually working out His purposes through the turmoil and pressures and problems and perplexities of our lives. I believe we all have to endure difficulties, because they are needed as part of the process. It also seems there are no shortcuts. These trials are God's instruments sent to do His work in our lives. If we could only learn to not resist them, and stop the murmuring and complaining through the process, it is possible it wouldn't take us as long...if we could just learn to welcome and rejoice in them, as God tells us to do. As Paul cries, "I glory in my infirmities." Why? "Because when I am weak, then He is strong. His strength is made perfect in my weakness" (see 2 Corinthians 12:9-10).
In closing, my husband, who is a physician, reminded me that during medical lectures the speaker will often close with "The Pearls" or take home message:
- The pain and struggle is real!
- The process is needed (by God to do a great work)!
- The process can be as long as you allow it.
- God is firstly building character!
- God is secondarily developing our talents and giftings.
- God wants to use us! (Jeremiah 29:11 says for His plans and purposes)
Donna Crompton is called to equip the saints in helping them grow in calling and gifting. She had her first experience with Jesus at five years old and has continued to grow in the gifts of the prophetic and dream interpretation. She has a great love for seeing people delivered from addictions of all kinds. She is the owner of Rosegate Design where she makes many contacts in marketplace ministry. She and her husband John and their four children live in Hurricane, West Virginia.
Permission is granted (and you are also encouraged) to reprint these articles in hard copy form, as well as sending them to your own email lists and posting them on your own websites. We ask only that you keep Elijah List website, email contact info, and author contact information intact.