Monday, January 13, 2014

The Pearl of Suffering


Just saying the word conjures up pictures in my mind. Things I'd rather forget. People who have been hurtful to me or let me down. Unresolved conflicts with those I was close to. Messy relationships. Dark times. Grief.

These things have taken a toll on my health.

Years ago, during a time of great stress, a cyst formed at the base of my skull. The size of a pearl. It no longer hurts, but it's still there.

I sigh.

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)"

"All things." The ancient, holy, living Word, says "all things."

Even the things that are not good. The broken pieces in our lives that don't seem to fit into the picture of a holy and loving God who is Sovereign over all.

"The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.(1 Thessalonians 5:23)"

Faithful. He is faithful. It takes faith in His faithfulness to see what we cannot see:

The impossible coming true. Miracles happening. The bad turned into something good. The sad things coming untrue.

A friend once counseled me on how the Lord can turn our suffering into something beautiful, like the way a clam turns an irritant in its body over and over again until it forms into an iridescent pearl.

All the stressors, the irritants in our life that keep happiness at bay, if we focus on Christ and hope in His unfailing love, turning the hurts over and over again in prayer and softening them with our salty tears (1 Peter 5:6,7), something amazing will happen.

Jesus, the Son of God, the Suffering Servant who bought our redemption, He knows our pain. And, He knows how to make it 

Something beautiful. 

In Christ, there can be beauty in the pain. In the suffering. However long.

And, when the hurt is gone, with only a scar that remains. A pearl. A reminder of where you've been. There is something you can do with it.

In the light, a single pearl found.

We can clutch our pearls, keeping them close to our heart.

Or we can open our hand and share them with others. With others who will treat them with delicacy and honor. 

We can bring our hurts to light in community. A community that has let the love of Jesus shine in their hearts.

"The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not overcome it." (John 1:5)

For it is in the Light of the love of Christ that we are able to see the beauty that our hurts have become.

The broken pieces of our lives can be strung together as a necklace, a story, to adorn the beloved bride of Christ. His church. The one His heart desires and longs to be near. Now and forevermore.

"Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good,
For His lovingkindness is everlasting.
Let the redeemed of the Lord say so,
Whom He has redeemed from the hand of the adversary..." 
(Psalm 107: 1-3)