The largest pearl in the world is 26 inches in length, 12 inches wide, and weighs nearly a whopping 75 pounds. It's huge! It's also worth $100 million! If anyone wants to know what I'd like for Christmas...just sayin'.
Unlike most pearls found in oysters, this beauty was found in a giant clam. Pearls are formed when a grain of sand gets inside the oyster or clam and begins to irritate the mollusk. To protect itself, the mollusk secretes nacre - the same stuff that formed its shell - until layer after layer has encompassed the sand and created the iridescent gem.
Here are a few facts about pearls I found interesting:
1. Pearls exist because of irritation.
2. They're created as a result of a defense mechanism.
3. They're formed on the inside of the mollusk.
4. They're fashioned in secret.
5. Not all pearls are created equally: round pearls formed naturally are more valuable than farmed pearls.
6. The pearls with the highest value are white with a rose overtone.
7. The pearls with the most nacre produce the most magnificent luster and are, therefore, the most valuable. Basically, the longer the mollusk was irritated by the sand and the more time it had to coat the sand with nacre, the more rare, beautiful, and costly the pearl.
8. No one knows which oysters have a pearl hidden inside of them until the mollusks are opened.
In Isaiah 60:18, there's an unusual line, which captured my attention the other day: "...You will call your walls Salvation and your gates Praise." Psalm 22:3 tells us God "inhabits the praises" of His people, and He delights in the gates of Jerusalem (Psalm 122:2). The Bible says in Revelation 21:21, the gates of the New Jerusalem were each fashioned from one single pearl.
Every time I go through a rough moment, season, or experience in life, I am presented with an opportunity. I have the option to be hurt, angered, irritated, and otherwise negatively affected, or I can defend myself with praise. When praise and thanksgiving become my weapons of choice, they are the nacre with which I coat my circumstances.
The most valuable moments of praise in my life can only be offered during the times of the most profound pain. The depth of my worship and the measure of the sacrifice my praise directly determines the beauty of the pearl I create inside myself. Forced praise and going-through-the-motions worship are like an irregularly shaped, farmed pearl: just about worthless.
Like the white pearls with the rose overtone, which fetch the highest prices, the praise I can offer that has the highest value to the Lord is that which honors His sacrifice for me. Worshipping from the perspective that I am the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus and I have been washed in the Blood and made as white as snow is praise that honors Him.
Pearls are only formed through irritation.
Every difficulty is an opportunity to create something which cannot be created in good times. There may be things you're going through situationally or internally that are heartbreaking, frustrating, and challenging to get through. You might be in the middle of a storm right now, which seems unending.
You might be the only one who knows you are praising your way through the storm.
When the Lord sees fit to open your life before the world around you, others will see the pearl you've created in those tough moments by surrendering yourself to praise. The pearly Gates of Praise you've created in the hard times are an invitation to His presence, and they allow others to see the masterful work He's done in you.