In the ancient world pearls were highly prized. In Bible times Jesus metaphorically warned against casting one’s pearls before swine (Matthew 7:6) and related an illustration we call the parable of the pearl of great price (Matthew 13:45). At the close of the book of Revelation, John describes the New Jerusalem as having twelve gates made of pearls. Today the pearl is a highly prized gem, even as it was two millennia ago.

The pearl is formed by an abnormal growth found inside some oysters. An irritant such as a grain of sand stimulates a secretion around the irritant that hardens into a protective coating that we call a pearl.

In everyday life there is a human parallel to the formation of the pearl. It is common for a child who has been hurt in a dysfunctional family to build a shell around himself to guard against future pain. With steely resolve he vows never to be hurt again. Since he has been betrayed so often, he is unwilling to trust others, fearing their disloyalty and his resulting misery. He puts up a front that masks his inner suffering. He refuses to confide in others because that would make him vulnerable. In marriage he may even bar his wife from his confidence, causing her to feel rejected. Divorce may result.

We all have our secrets, things we don’t want others to know about us. I don’t want to know all of your problems and you don’t want to know all of mine. There is nothing abnormal about wishing to maintain one’s privacy. There are times when a person may struggle with whether to reveal some dark spot from his past.

However, you can never be completely happy if you abandon trust in others. Life totally without trust is impossible. You must trust the unknown driver at the intersection to stop at the stop sign. Sometimes that trust is betrayed resulting in an accident, but you can’t go through life never trusting another driver.

In the spiritual realm it is vital to allow yourself to become vulnerable. You may need to seek counsel from another Christian about a family problem, trusting him not to betray your confidence. Finding support and solution to the issue is so important that you must risk getting hurt. Because it is a fellow believer whose help you seek, you may be quite certain that your confidence will be kept. The possibility that it will not, should not deter you from seeking the help you need.

The oyster deals with his irritant by building a pearl around itself. With a human being, however, the shell created by hurt can only result in further suffering in years to come. So when you have troubles and need help, open up to other Christians and especially to God.

Monroe Hawley

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