Girlfriends in God - Aug. 24, 2010

August 24, 2010  

Beautiful Irritations 

Mary Southerland

Today's Truth 
Isaiah 45:3 "I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places so that you may know that I am the LORD, your God (NIV).

Friend to Friend 
Life can be so irritating. More often than not, it is the little things that annoy me the most.  The lost set of keys. The misplaced cell phone. The ice-maker that refuses to do its job on a hot summer day. The empty tea pitcher stuck back in the refrigerator. But then there are times when people are the problem. They show up uninvited or call when I am running out the door, already late for an appointment that I really don't have time to keep. Been there?

I am convinced that these tiny irritations are a tool in the hand of a loving Father who uses them as "heavenly sandpaper" to rub off some of our rough edges. 

I was invited to speak for a women's conference based on the theme, "Pearls of Wisdom." When I arrived at the conference center, I was greeted by women wearing pearl necklaces, pearl bracelets, pearl pins, hats covered in multicolored pearls ... you name it, and they wore it if it had pearls. Each table was beautifully decorated with treasure chests overflowing with strands of pearls. Oyster shells held candy mints that looked like pearls and each name tag was decorated with a single pearl. It was amazing! 

I was warmly welcomed and then promptly introduced to the event director and leadership team who were excited and ready to go - except for one problem. I was "pearl-less." I was quickly told that the speaker had to wear pearls of some kind. I did not have any pearls but this creative group of ladies was not easily deterred and before I knew it, I was wearing a stunning pearl necklace - and the pearls were the real deal. I could just see that necklace breaking while I was speaking, but before I could utter one word of protest, the owner of the necklace said, "Don't worry! You can just give it back to me at the end of the conference." And off we went!

I am what you might call an "active" speaker in that I cannot stand still and talk at the same time. I get excited, pace the stage, arms waving and can literally work up quite a sweat. The "Pearls of Wisdom" conference was no exception. In fact, it was a blistering summer day and the air conditioning was having trouble keeping up with the size of the crowd. By the time I finished speaking, I was indeed "glowing." When we were dismissed for the day, women waited in line to talk, ask for prayer or share a new truth God had given them. I forgot all about the pearl necklace until its owner quietly slipped up beside me and said, "I have to leave and need to retrieve my necklace." As she began to undo the necklace clasp, I apologized for perspiring all over her beautiful pearls. She laughed and said, "Actually, it is good for them. Human perspiration helps the pearls keep their luster." 

I am constantly amazed at the profound truths God has tucked into the simple things of life. Pearls are formed when a piece of grit, sand or shell is trapped inside an oyster. The oyster protects itself from irritation by secreting a nacreous liquid that surrounds the irritant until it eventually becomes a pearl. In other words, what begins as an annoying irritant eventually becomes a valuable treasure. The same is true in life.

Looking back, I can honestly say that the greatest treasures in my life have been discovered during the darkest times of my life. A battle with clinical depression stripped away years of fear and doubt, leaving me with a new identity in Christ and a ministry I never thought possible. The inability to have biological children made it possible to adopt our son and daughter, Jered and Danna, giving my husband and me a gift beyond measure. Over the years, weaknesses have given way to strengths and failures have led to successes and God has used it all for His glory and my good. 

In God's economy, a mess is the perfect setting for a miracle, girlfriend. A sliver of hope and a seed of victory are buried at the center of every problem. God has gone before you. He has already been where you are going and in every trial or difficult moment of life, God has buried a treasure. When the tough times come, just look for the pearls.

Let's Pray 
Father, I am so sorry for the way I complain about my circumstances. Please forgive me for my bad attitude when things don't go my way. I want to see Your hand in every part of every day - good or bad. Help me learn how to face every storm with confidence, knowing that You really are in control even though I cannot hear Your voice or see Your hand at work. May others see You in my life. 

In Jesus' name, 

Now It's Your Turn
Read James 1:2-4 and answer the following questions:

·         What does the word "consider" suggest as a response to difficult circumstances?

·         What should our first response be to trials?

·         What does the testing of our faith produce in us?

·         What promise does James give us when we are faithful and choose to stand strong when life is hard?

·         How do these truths relate to your life today?

More From The Girlfriends 
I don't know about you, but I tend to look for the nearest exit when a storm hits. Avoiding difficult people and complicated circumstances tends to be one of my most common goals. Can you relate? What we really need to do is cultivate an attitude of unshakable confidence in God and keep a "but God" promise in our heart.

"My husband has lost his job, but God will provide." 

"The doctors have said there is no hope, but God is the Great Physician."

"I don't know what to do, but God will show me the way."

We live in uncertain times which demand a certain hope that can only be found in God.  Right now, choose faith over feeling. Don't doubt in the darkness what you learned in the light. God is with you, friend. Look for the pearls!

Need help? Check out Mary's books, Sandpaper People and Escaping the Stress Trap for ways to handle those irritating people who rub you the wrong way and manage the stress they can cause in your life.

FREE MP3s Check out these free MP3s from Mary. I Love a Good Plan and Getting Past Your Past.

Join women from across the world in Mary's Online Bible Study, Light for the Journey. Sandpaper People is the current series and will help you discover ten ways to deal with the "sandpaper people" in your life - you know - the ones that rub you the wrong way. When you enroll, you also have access to all of the 2010 studies. Check it out!

Need a friend? Connect with me on Facebook or through email. I love hearing what God is doing in your life! 

Seeking God?
Click here to find out more about
how to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Girlfriends in God
P.O. Box 725
Matthews, NC 28106

Click here to learn more about hosting a Girlfriends in God conference in your area or having one of the GiGs speak at your next women's event.

Originally published Tuesday, 24 August 2010.