“To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of
beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead
of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the LORD
has planted for his own glory.”
Isaiah 61:3

There’s just something special about a strand of pearls;
their iridescent shimmer, the smooth way they feel against your skin, how they
can magically make even the simplest of outfits look pulled together.  For our 1 year anniversary, my husband gave me
my very first set of pearls (real ones!). 
I was so surprised, I bounced back and forth between giggling like a 10
year old at a slumber party and crying like a baby.  I’m not sure what made him think to buy them
for me but nothing could have been more perfect.  I felt so feminine, classy and grown up like
a Queen or Jackie O!  I still feel that
way each and every time I wear them.
Recently, I was praying for a friend who’s going through
some difficult and life-changing circumstances. 
During one of our recent conversations, she said something that haunted
me for several days afterward.  She said
that she used to pray for God to not let anything bad happen to her.  I guess it affected me so deeply because I
have prayed that same prayer many times before…and yet something bad and
undeserving did happen to my sister in Christ. 
But as I was praying, God brought to mind my precious pearls and I began
to research how they are made.  I was
amazed by what I discovered!
A pearl is formed when an irritant like a grain of sand or
parasite enters an oyster’s protective shell and is unable to be expelled.  To protect itself from the ongoing cuts and
pain brought by the irritant, the oyster slowly begins to coat it with layer
after layer of a lustrous material called nacre.  It’s these layers that give pearls their iridescent
shimmer.  It takes 6-8 years to form a
single pearl so it’s no wonder they are so valued.  And would you have ever imagined that at the
heart of something so beautiful is something that caused pain?
Honestly, I would never want to experience what my sweet
friend is going through but as an outsider, I am able to see the beautiful
pearl God is creating as she allows Him to gradually coat her pain with layer
after layer of His healing love and guidance. 
Each time I see her she is shimmering more and more with the radiance
that only comes from spending time with the Lord.  He truly is giving her beauty for ashes.
I don’t know what hurts you have experienced in your life or
what might be threatening to break through your protective shell at any moment,
but I do know who can take that pain and turn it into something beautiful if
you’ll let Him.  It may not happen
overnight, but it will happen.

And a special thanks to my friend who is not only triumphantly
walking through this with God but also sharing the pearls of wisdom she’s
gaining as she goes along.

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