One of the issues we revisit regularly in recovery and discipling is the matter of suffering- why it is present, how we face it, consecrating it to God for His redemptive work through it, etc. Recently, I was struck with the fact that, in the New Jerusalem, the Heavenly City, each of the 12 city gates is a single pearl. As I reflected on the means by which a pearl is created it seemed to me appropriate that the gates should be pearls. The mollusks that produce pearls do so over a 3-6 year period of repeatedly coating an irritating foreign object so that it eventually becomes a beautiful, translucent gem, greatly prized.
Christ speaks of the ‘pearl of great price’, which is worth selling everything else to possess. Certainly, he experienced great suffering out of which God brought great blessing.
I have experienced the “blessing in the thorns” myself, beautiful gems coming out of irritating, even painful circumstances. I certainly believe that my intimacy with the Lord has come as a result of suffering that led to trusting in Him more and finding comfort in Him. So I can readily see how the pearl that comes from patient suffering while trusting in God is a gateway to kingdom living.
Helping other people come to that realization is often difficult, especially while they are in the throes of their pain.