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Christian living, Life's Challenges

The Virtues of an Irritant

pearl oyster

pearl oyster (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The world’s largest pearl is the “Pearl of Lao Tzu.” It was found in an oyster off the coast of Palawan in 1934 and weighs a whopping 14 lbs. and is nearly 32,000 carats. That’s a lot of pearl.

Pearls are marvelous things. They begin as just a grain of sand, an irritant that slips into an oyster’s shell between layers of nacre (mother of pearl). Nacre is a naturally produced substance that forms the shell and allows it to grow. Over time, the oyster continues to cover the grain of sand with nacre until a ball forms, a pearl.

So what began as an irritant with a potential to annoy and even harm, results in a beautiful, rare, and valuable gem.

Do you see where I’m going here?

James, in his book, tells us to “count it all joy when we fall into various trials.”

Trials are irritants. They disturb our life, bring us heartache and stress and sometimes off-the-chart anxiety. They turn our hair prematurely gray and bring us countless sleepless nights. They annoy us, confuse us, trouble us, and anger us. They are a grain of sand, or a splinter, if you will, that wedges its way into our flesh and serves as a constant reminder of our mortality, our vulnerability, of how small and out-of-control we really are.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Here are 5 ways we can turn irritants into pearls:

  • Irritants drive us closer to God. Little else in life will push us toward God and throw us into His arms like a trial.
  • Irritants allow us to see a side of our Father that we may not otherwise see. We are more attuned to his lovingkindness, his tender care, his gentle embrace.
  • Irritants remind us of our place in this world. We are only sojourners, temporary residents. This is not our home; we are aliens in a foreign land.
  • Irritants give us the opportunity to later minister to another enduring the same trial.
  • Irritants strengthen our resolve, firm up our faith, sharpen our focus, and show us what really matters in life.

The next time life throws you an irritant, do no fret, see it as an opportunity to make a pearl! Count it all joy.

What virtues have you found in dealing with irritants?

(For more articles like this one, I invite you to also check out my other blog


About michaelkingbooks

I write stories of faith and family, love and loss, heartache and triumph. Here I blog about faith, relationships, and genuine living.


10 thoughts on “The Virtues of an Irritant

  1. Great post Mike! I needed to be reminded of this as I am facing a huge irritant!! It’s all about perspective isn’t it?

    Posted by Cherie | June 12, 2012, 7:13 am
  2. So true! Thanks for your article, Mike. Once encountering the irritant, I find it’s then the perseverance needed to work through the issue that I next encounter. The “pearl” is a great illustration about the fruits of persevering!

    Posted by Sharon R Hoover | June 12, 2012, 9:01 am
  3. Great article, Mike.

    Posted by Elizabeth Ann Fisher | June 12, 2012, 10:40 am
  4. I could use this reminder every day. I should print it on the insides of my eyelids!

    Posted by Kate Dolan | June 12, 2012, 1:20 pm
  5. Good reminder. Thanks. Sure made me more aware of my irritants today. Here’s to making pearls.

    Posted by goldenprayerbear | June 12, 2012, 7:58 pm
  6. Very thought provoking! Helps to put things in perspective.

    Posted by Jessi | June 13, 2012, 1:05 am
  7. once again, you show you are not just good at writing great books, but other things also…… well said

    Posted by Mark Buzard | June 13, 2012, 9:53 am


  1. Pingback: Making Memories Side By Side « Old Things R New - June 18, 2012

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