By Pamela Patnode
The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls. ~Matthew 13:45
Immediately after she was delivered, the NICU team hurriedly entered my room and began to work on my daughter, who was not breathing. The scene was surreal as I watched from my position on the hospital bed while my doctor continued to work on me. Today is my daughter’s birthday, and I remember the miracle of her conception and birth every year.
My husband and I suffered miscarriages and a period of infertility. Upon reading a Christian devotional, I was convicted about the power of praying together. My husband and I started to pray together in earnest. We prayed that we would conceive, and by God’s grace, we did.
The pregnancy was difficult for numerous reasons. Included in the challenges was a test that suggested our daughter could be born with Down Syndrome. A consultation with a geneticist led to the doctor advising us to consider amniocentesis to confirm the diagnosis. Sadly, it was also recommended that we consider aborting the child to avoid having a child with disabilities.
Find the Treasure
When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it.
In today’s gospel, the Kingdom of God is compared to many things, including a buried treasure and a pearl of great price. Significantly, both the person who finds the treasure and the merchant who discovers the pearl recognize the inestimable worth of what they have found.
Tragically today, few people comprehend the value of eternal gifts.
In a throwaway culture, many people are captivated by the new but are oblivious to the eternal. In our culture, the demise of marriage, truth, and life are just a few examples of this inability to recognize and appreciate true and lasting treasures.
G.K. Chesterton once said, “Every high civilization decays by forgetting obvious things.” I would argue that our culture has forgotten or overlooked the immeasurable worth of God’s greatest gifts to us.
Another observation in today’s gospel is the people’s effort to acquire the treasures. First, they recognized the value of the gift, and second, they made a sacrificial effort to obtain it.
Indeed, things of eternal value (including marriage, truth, and life) demand our effort. They also require our attention, our care, our protection, our respect, our sacrifice, and our love. Yet, it is easy to overlook the value of these “pearls of great price” and be unwilling to make the sacrifices necessary to attain them and (as the psalmist exclaims) delight in them.
My daughter is an eternal treasure, a pearl of great price. I thank God that my husband and I recognized the priceless value of life, all life, and did not follow the doctor’s counsel.
However, I am not perfect. I ask forgiveness when I did not recognize other valuable and eternal gifts such as relationships, time, faith, Christ’s sacrifice, God’s law and mercy, and creation—or I did not make the necessary effort to attain, protect, and cherish them.
Today’s readings cause me to reflect upon that which is of true and lasting value. They cause me to consider my effort to attain, protect, and cherish these gifts. The readings also cause me to question how often I have thanked God for these blessings. Like Solomon, I pray for wisdom. And like the psalmist, I exclaim, “The law of your mouth is to me more precious than thousands of gold and silver pieces.” Thank you, Lord. Amen!
Lord, may I recognize Your gifts, make an effort needed to attain and cherish them, and may I always delight in You, Your words, and Your perfect gifts for me.
Call to Action
Make a list of the “pearls of great price” that you have received from the Lord. Thank Him for each item on the list.
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