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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Life...like Pearls

One of the most fascinating of all jewels…is the pearl. A pearl with all of its luster and beauty is worn during the hours of entertainment and enjoyment. We associate pearls with times of pleasure, but did you ever stop to consider how a cultured pearl is made…genuine, cultured pearls produced inside of an oyster. …consider how the making of a pearl contrasts strangely with its use.

No other jewel has such a fascinating story as a pearl. A pearl is a symbol of trouble that has been healed. If there has been no trouble, there would have been no pearl.

Scientists are in agreement that pearls are the product of pain. Sometimes the pain is caused by a microscopic worm and sometimes by a boring parasite. The shell of the oyster is chipped or pierced and a foreign object like a speck of sand gets inside. Immediately, all the resources of the tiny oyster rush to the spot when the breach was made. In that moment of danger, and only in that moment, the oyster discharges a secretion to close the breach and save its life. The speck of sand is covered by the secretion. The wound is healed, and a pearl is made.

Most of us have experienced what it means to be pierced and wounded by the troubles of life. Do we turn our troubles to triumph, or do they triumph over us? Suffering adds a maturing dimension to life.

At the famous Passion play at Oberammergau, Germany (www.passionplay-oberammergau.com), the characters in the play earn their livelihood as woodcarvers, carving statues of Biblical characters. ...At a woodcarver’s shop…there are …piles of ordinary blocks of wood. The woodcarver selects one, picks up a hatchet, and starts hacking away. The chips fly in every direction. Then he takes tools sharper then knives, and he cuts and carves until it seems as though he is cutting away a whole block of wood. If the block of wood were alive, it would kick and scream and say something like this, “Stop that at once! You are killing me!”

But out of the chopping and cutting, there finally emerges a St. Peter or a St. Paul or a St. John. Out of suffering and hardship comes character.

Suffering and suffering may weaken and even destroy some people’s relationship with God. While, on the other hand, trouble and suffering only deepen other’s relationship with God. Trouble has the possibility of greatness of the soul. It was a blinded John Milton who wrote Paradise Lost. It was an imprisoned John Bunyan who wrote Pilgrim’s Progress. It was a deafened Beethoven who composed the immortal 9th Symphony and it was an imprisoned, persecuted Apostle Paul, “beaten with Roman rods, lashed with Roman whips”, who wrote in his second letter to the Corinthians (v3-4), “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation, who consoles us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to console those who are in any affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God.”

By the merciful grace of God for all his children, our troubles can be turned into triumph.

(extracted from a sermon by Bob Ralls, The United Methodist Church)

 
In nómine Patris et Fílii et Spíritus Sancti. Amen.

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