Dick Ryan said: “Suffering can be like a grain of sand in an oyster; it can create a magnificent pearl.” Although suffering can be irritating like a tiny grain of sand, we may feel its weight like a huge boulder. No matter the size, we rarely think of the suffering’s potential to become a pearl. Perhaps we waste our opportunities to use suffering for good. Pain and hardships are rampant now, touching ourselves or people we know. Unemployment, hurricanes, fires, unprecedented unhealthy air quality, riots, physical and verbal brutality. What are we doing with the suffering with which the media—or our daily lives– bombards us? Although it’s hard to explain, somehow good can always come from suffering. I find it so in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians: “Even now I find my joy in the suffering I endure for you. In my own flesh I fill up what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ for the sake of his body, the Church” (Col. 1:24). How did Paul find joy in suffering? How do we? We search for the pearl. Newscasts often end with the heroism of firefighters, the generosity of fund-raisers to help the hungry, the touching love amid pain. These are the pearls. Will today give you a chance to be heroic, generous, loving?  Most probably. If not, we can prayerfully offer the sufferings we encounter as gifts to God and God’s People. “Here’s my headache, God. Here’s my frustration. Here’s my sorrow. Take all as gift, O God, and transform them. Turn them into pearls of prayer and help for those most in need. How all this works I can’t fathom, but I believe. After all, you can make a pearl from a grain of sand.”

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