“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls.” (Matt. 13:45)

IT IS TOUGH TO WATCH A CHILD SUFFER from Cystic Fibrosis. Yet witnessing a seven-year old do just that changed my perspective on suffering forever. A particularly hard day of difficult breathing sent this little boy on a visit to the hospital, where our paths crossed. Upon arrival, his mom prayed over him. He then looked up at her and said, “Mom, do you know why we suffer?”

“No, honey. Why?” she said.

“The reason we have suffering is so we are reminded we don’t belong here.”

Like a pearl, the church is the product of suffering; and the merchant, Christ, in pain and distress, gave everything He had for it. His death on the cross made its birth possible. A pearl grows gradually, as does the church. No one can see the making of this fabulous gem. Hidden inside the oyster shell, a defense mechanism in fluid form is used to coat the irritant. Layer upon layer of the coating covers the pearl until a lustrous gem is formed.

Like a pearl, the church’s transformation is often hidden from the world as well. The church among the nations has encountered many “irritants” since the beginning of its formation after Jesus’ resurrection and return to heaven. One day it will be revealed in all its splendor. What a day that will be!

Gently remind a hurting friend of our invaluable final dwelling place.

Susan Browning Schulz is a Bible teacher, wife, and mom of three grown children. She lives on the Etowah River in Northwest Georgia and loves leading her church small group.

© 2018 Wesleyan Publishing House. Reprinted from Light from the Word. Used by permission.