Of Pearls and Diamonds
Excessive heat, excessive pressure, and an excessive irritants all sound like things to avoid. Yet, the three forces are essential in turning carbon into diamonds and a speck of sand into a pearl. We may not understand the full process for carbon changing to diamond or sand turning into pearl, but we
Each of us have our own stories of pressure and irritation that have affected us. At times, it may have felt as though the pain of these events would destroy us. Yet, we are still here breathing and moving. What has your ordeal produced in you? Are you a fine diamond or treasured pearl? Or, have the painful events of your life left you in a pile of carbon or fractured silica?
Yesterday, I had the honor and pleasure of visiting with a half dozen parishioners in a local assisted living facility. They ranged in age from 103 years down to the mid 80s. Those whom I met are in various stages of life. One person is unable to speak, one cannot hear, one is extremely tired, and one is sullen. One simply cannot make sense of anything. In the course of talking with these folks about Jesus and the grace of God, we shared the sacrament of Holy Communion. Such holy moments are to be treasured more than diamonds or pearls.
In the midst of my visit, one younger looking fellow (not a parishioner) helped me find one of the congregants. I asked the question to this man as he sat in his wheelchair, "Where's your roomie?" He responded, "I think so and so is in the bathroom." Oh, okay, I'll come back later. This young man's demeanor was positive and polite considering his wheelchair transportation and obvious ailments.
Later, upon returning to the room, So and so was still in the bathroom and I waited patiently. I talked to the attending nurse and we spoke of my parishioner and the young roommate. I noticed a dart board on the wall (A strange addition to a room in assisted living!) More importantly, stationed behind the dart board was a white board with many written notes of encouragement. Apparently, this young man suffered great adversity in his life. He really shouldn't be in a home usually designated for elderly folk. Yet, here, the things that are intended to crush the body have produced diamonds and pearls in this man's life.
Steve, the young man who looks out of place in a wheelchair, seems to have taken adversity head on. Those who have communicated encouragement toward Steve here have noticed his resolve and unwillingness to quit. Steve's excessive heat, pressure, irritations should have diminished him to dust. Instead, Steve has received the worst life can dish out and has allowed these trials to be his treasure chest.
"Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus
Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we
rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we
know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And
hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit,
whom he has given us. You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the
ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly
dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for
us." (Romans 5:1-8, NIV)
I'm fairly certain, as I left the facility yesterday, Steve was in physical therapy lifting weights. Still confined to a wheelchair and unable to enjoy mobility has not deterred this young man from continuing to live life to the fullest. How about you?
Take a look in the mirror today and see what looks back. Is there a glistening diamond or polished pearl evident? I hope so! Is there a forlorn pile of carbon or silica straining to look back at you? Take heart, there is hope in God to produce beauty in your broken state. Reach out and up and see if God's hands of healing aren't already reaching toward you.