Not too long ago I subbed for a dear friend who served as a church musician. In retrospect, knowing the caliber of his musicianship, his passion for excellence, and his vast artistic experience, I foolishly made assumptions about the environment in which he regularly ministered as the Director of Music.
As I sat with the congregation during the sermon, marinating in my ignorance, a question kept rolling around in my head. “Why would God put such a brilliant pianist, incredible arranger, and servant-hearted Christ follower in such a seemingly hidden and clearly under-resourced setting? Don't they recognize the gem that they have in their Director of Music?" My Peter-cut-off-the-ear-of-Malchus-to defend-Jesus silent rant ended with a deep-sighed prayer of, “I just don’t get it.”
After the worship service, I began the long drive home. Reflecting on the morning, my unanswered question resurfaced. “Why does God put gems in hidden places?” I am so thankful that God gave grace to just be still and to listen. In those quiet moments, the Holy Spirit gently said, “Gems are created in hidden places.”
That simple statement prompted memories of elementary school geology and an exploration of National Geographic when I got home. As I re-discovered simple truths about the formation of diamonds, the parallels to our journey of faith were unearthed in ways that were undeniably encouraging.
Gems, indeed, are formed in hidden places. Not in the spotlight, on the stage, or in public arenas. It is a process neither publicly acknowledged or nor generously applauded. Gems are created in darkness, almost 100 miles below the surface of the earth. The same is true of our character. It is often formed when we feel buried miles below the surface. If you are feeling in a hidden place, let me encourage you that you are not unseen. El Roi, “the God who sees,” sees you, right in the midst of your perceived deep darkness.
I also was reminded that gems are formed by heat and by pressure. One National Geographic video I watched indicated that the environment for gems to be created requires 2,700 degrees of heat. The scientist also invited viewers to, “Imagine the weight of 4000 grown men standing on your foot. That is the amount of pressure under which gems are formed.” Perhaps the heat of your circumstances feels equally as intense. Maybe it does feel like 4,000 grown men are standing on your foot. Would you receive this encouragement? The heat and the pressure that you are experiencing are not without purpose. The greater the heat and the greater the pressure, the greater the strength and clarity of the gem. Would you be open to the reality that the One who sees you is allowing the heat and the pressure to increase your quality and brilliance as well?
The last reflection that came to mind is that gems are beautiful in every setting. As you journey through this season, may I remind you? You are beautiful with God’s beauty. You are beautiful inside and out! (See Luke 1:28 MSG). Isaiah prophesies that “You will also be [considered] a crown of glory and splendor in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem [exceedingly beautiful] in the hand of your God” (62:3 AMP).
As I journaled about these realities in my own faith journey, it occurred to me that I often resist and resent difficult circumstances. My entry a few days after that experience contained this confession. "Maybe the invitation is to receive and embrace this time of heat and pressure, inviting the Creator to continue to form me in the hidden place. Perhaps it is in obscurity that the forming of my character is taking place. Instead of my prayers revolving around 'Get me out of here,' maybe I need to be asking, 'God, form me. Do everything You want to do while I am in the heat and under the pressure. Perfect me, according to what You want.'" I am so thankful that the weariness from resisting and resenting is being displaced by God's rest as I am learning to receive and embrace God's all-sufficient grace.
Be encouraged today. Perhaps in this difficult season, you are being perfected in a hidden and obscure place by One who sees you and profoundly loves you. Know that as you intentionally rest, receive, and embrace the process, you will discover God's strength, clarity, quality, brilliance, and beauty revealed in your life. You really are a gem.
[Looking for more devotionals like this? Check-out 31 Days of Encouragement, available for purchase on-line. Sharing a devotional at the beginning of a rehearsal or a staff meeting is a great way to help people center their hearts and minds on eternal things!]