An incredible process begins when a foreign material, or a parasite, makes its way inside the shell of an oyster and begins causing damage. The intruder can threaten the life of the oyster, so something must be done. To protect itself, the oyster seals off the threat by using the same material that lines the inside of its shell (called nacre). The oyster cannot spit out the intruder, so it covers it with many layers of precious material, thus making it into a pearl. In other words, the producing of a pearl is a defense mechanism. The result? The painful intruders are turned into the beautiful pearls we have today.
There is much we could learn from the oyster. Too often, people intrude into our lives with qualities like discouragement, lies, insults, and anger. There is no doubt these cause damage. There is no doubt these can destroy relationships. However, when we respond in a kind and loving way, we can take someone who intended to do harm, respond in love, and transform that person into something beautiful for the Lord. Incredible changes can take place when we slowly respond to such intruders with layers of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).
As sad as it is, hurtful words and actions are going to enter our lives, but how we react to them is completely up to us. Peter said it best:
“To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing” (1 Peter 3:8-9).