By Don Ruhl
A Chinese proverb says, “The gem cannot be polished without friction.”
Gems are beautiful, and we can all be beautiful like gems. However, let us not forget that the beautiful gem in the jewelry store was not mined with such beauty, but it was dug out of the earth rough and dirty, and then it went through certain processes that gave it great beauty.
Some gems must undergo a great deal of friction to acquire the beauty that we admire. My brother once had one of those rock tumblers (the kind that grandparents buy), into which you can put rocks that no one else thinks are beautiful, and after much tumbling and noise (which is why parents do not buy them), a beautiful stone comes forth.
That is what our lives are all about. We are rough and dirty, and perhaps no one else can see how anything good can come from us, but we are tossed about and things are thrown at us and we endure friction, but in the end we come forth as gems, polished and beautiful.
Revelation 21 shows us the foundations of the walls of the New Jerusalem and they are made of gems,
“And the foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with all kinds of precious stones: the first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, the fifth sardonyx, the sixth sardius, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst” (verses 19 & 20).
Moreover, it is said about the gates to the city, “And the twelve gates were twelve pearls: each individual gate was of one pearl” (verse 21). The pearl is another precious object that is made by friction or irritation when a grain of sand enters the oyster and the creature secrets a substance that eventually forms a pearl.
Fittingly, the New Jerusalem is not entered without friction, irritation, and tribulation. In Acts 14.22 the Bible tells us that Paul went to the churches, preaching, “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.” It is logical that the gates of the New Jerusalem are pearls.
Therefore, whenever we think of the glories of heaven, let us also think that it is not a free ride to heaven, but like gems we must endure friction. So then, rather than being frustrated by it and trying to fight it, let us see that God is working something beautiful in our lives that we might be worthy of the most beautiful place.
It is written in Romans 8.17b, that we are joint heirs with Christ, “if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.” Therefore, let us, “consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8.18). You cannot be polished without friction.