The Pearl of Great Price

Pearl of Great Price
by Michael D. O’Brien


The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls. When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it. (Matt 13:44-46)


IN my last three writings, we have talked about finding peace in suffering and joy in the big picture and finding mercy when we least deserve it. But I could summarize it all in this: the kingdom of God is found in the will of God. That is to say, the will of God, His Word, unlocks for the believer every spiritual blessing from Heaven, including peace, joy, and mercy. The will of God is the pearl of great price. Understand this, seek this, find this, and you will have everything.


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By the Rivers of Babylon

Jeremiah Lamenting the Destruction of Jerusalem by Rembrandt van Rijn,
Rijks Museum, Amsterdam, 1630 


FROM a reader:

In my prayer life and in praying for very specific things, particularly my husband’s abuse of pornography and all the things that result from this abuse, such as loneliness, dishonesty, mistrust, isolation, fear etc. Jesus tells me to be full of joy and gratitude. I get that God allows us so many burdens in life so that our souls may be purified and perfected. He wants us to learn to recognize our own sinfulness and self -love and realize we can’t do anything without Him, but He also tells me specifically to carry it with joy. This seems to elude me… I don’t know how to be joyful in the midst of my pain. I get that this pain is an opportunity from God but I don’t understand why God allows this kind of evil in my home and how am I expected to be joyful about it? He just keeps telling me to pray, give thanks and be joyful and laugh! Any thoughts?


Dear reader. Jesus is truth. He would never, therefore, ask us to dwell in falsehood. He would never demand us to "give thanks and be joyful and laugh" about something as grievous as your husband’s addiction. Nor does He expect someone to chuckle when a loved one dies, or loses his house in a fire, or is laid off from a job. The Gospels do not speak of the Lord laughing or smiling during His Passion. Rather, they recount how the Son of God endured a rare medical condition called hoematidrosis in which, due to severe mental anguish, blood capillaries burst, and the ensuing blood clots are then carried away from the skin surface by sweat, appearing as drops of blood (Luke 22:44).

So, then, what do these Scripture passages mean:

Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice! (Phil 4:4)

In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thess 5:18)


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FROM a reader:

So what do I do when I forget that sufferings are His blessings to bring me closer to Him, when I am in the middle of them and get impatient and angry and rude and short tempered… when He’s not always at the forefront of my mind and I get caught up in emotions and feelings and the world and then the opportunity to do the right thing is lost? How do I ALWAYS keep Him in the forefront of my heart and mind and not (re)act like the rest of the world that doesn’t believe?

This precious letter summarizes the wound in my own heart, the fierce struggle and literal war that has broken out in my soul. There is so much in this letter that opens the door for light, beginning with its raw honesty…


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Peace In Presence, Not Absence


HIDDEN it seems from the ears of the world is the collective cry I hear from the Body of Christ, a cry that is reaching the Heavens: “Father, if it is possible take this cup away from me!” Letters I receive speak of tremendous family and financial strain, lost security, and growing concern over The Perfect Storm that has emerged on the horizon. But as my spiritual director often says, we are in “boot camp,” training for this present and coming “final confrontation” that the Church is facing, as John Paul II put it. What appears to be contradictions, endless difficulties, and even a sense of abandonment is the Spirit of Jesus working through the firm hand of the Mother of God, forming her troops and preparing them for the battle of the ages. As it says in that precious book of Sirach:

My son, when you come to serve the LORD, prepare yourself for trials. Be sincere of heart and steadfast, undisturbed in time of adversity.  Cling to him, forsake him not; thus will your future be great. Accept whatever befalls you, in crushing misfortune be patient; for in fire gold is tested, and worthy men in the crucible of humiliation. (Sirach 2:1-5)


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Time to Set Our Faces


WHEN it came time for Jesus to enter His Passion, He set His face toward Jerusalem. It is time for the Church to set her face toward her own Calvary as the storm clouds of persecution continue to gather on the horizon. In the next episode of Embracing Hope TV, Mark explains how Jesus prophetically signals the spiritual condition necessary for the Body of Christ to follow its Head on the Way of the Cross, in this Final Confrontation that the Church is now facing…

 To watch this episode, go to