Of pearls and pain

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.” – Isaiah 55:8-9

He who created all the wonders under the sun, and the sun as well, has ways that are not our ways. For example the pearl. The pearl is used as a parabolic symbol of great value, even signifying the Kingdom of God. But a natural pearl is produced by the intrusion of a grain of sand inside the shell of the oyster, and into the tender parts of its very life, causing discomfort and pain. To stop the pain and discomfort, the oyster produces a very smooth and beautiful covering around the intrusive grain of sand, which over time becomes a pearl of great price. So too it may be that if God requires in his economy a pearl of beauty, he allows a discomforting grain to enter our lives. Many are the great pearls of art, music, poetry and literature that have arisen from the artist’s pain, by which the world is greatly enriched.

And the Kingdom of God itself was wrought into this world of tragedy by “a man of sorrows,” one who would suffer the anguish of rejection, betrayal, misunderstanding and slander, and the humiliation of the brutal crucifixion, all in order to produce that priceless and lovely pearl of eternal worth.

When Saul the apostle besought the Almighty thrice to remove “a thorn in the flesh,” which he called “a messenger of Satan”, the answer that came forth to his surprise was, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). And Saul’s response was, “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities…” Perhaps we too should rejoice in our own thorn of discomfiture, which may be the very vehicle by which to produce in our lives the most beautiful of pearls of great value.

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Elhanan ben-Avraham
Elhanan ben-Avraham, born in 1945, is a professional artist, poet, writer and father of two, grandfather of four, living in Israel since 1979. He has served in the IDF, taught the Bible internationally, published five illustrated books of poetry, painted two large Biblical murals in public buildings in Jerusalem, and most recently produced THE JERUSALEM ILLUSTRATED BIBLE, among many other works. He and his wife live in a quiet village in the Mountains of Judah.