I've just finished reading Joel Osteen's book Break Out!: Five Keys to Go Beyond Your Barriers and Live an Extraordinary Life. It's a great, inspiring read and I'd recommend it to anyone (Christian or not).
Although I'm not a member of Osteen's Lakewood Church, I'm a big fan. He's a gifted speaker, a talented writer, and a likable guy. He offers some very powerful insights Towards the end of his book he shared several thoughts about our problems becoming pearls that I really enjoyed.
In the last chapters, Joel shared a pretty keen observation about pearls. He said that pearls are born of an irritation—a problem. Oysters feed on the bottom of the ocean and, occasionally, a grain of sand will get lodged inside the Oyster's mouth. In an attempt to rid itself of the irritation, the Oyster will coat the grain of sand with a secretion (a type of lacquer) and rub it into a beautiful, perfect pearl.
Joel suggested that our problems are sometimes like pearls in embryo. We are given these problems and irritations, but if we endure with patience and faith, we can turn our even biggest irritations into the most beautiful pearls.
I strongly recommend Osteen's book to anyone and you can also watch one of his sermons on developing your "pearls" in the video below (the sermon starts at 2:22).