13 For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother's womb.
14 I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
And in Your book they all were written,
The days fashioned for me,
When as yet there were none of them.
The Lord has blessed me with two wonderful children, and today happens to be my daughter's birthday. She was born eleven days after her due date, and we sometimes joke that she just needed that extra bit of "cookin' time" to make her extra special. The doctors wanted to keep her overnight for observation, and so her mother and I spent the night in the hospital. I slept on a chair that folded out into a cot, and the next morning, after putting the chair back into its right form, I sat there holding my beautiful daughter as she slept. Just then, a woman on the hospital cleaning staff came in and saw my lovely girl and said in Spanish, "Muy precioso!" And so our daughter has been our "Precious" ever since.
So often when we look at verses like the ones above, it is easy to focus on ourselves and rest in the assurance that God formed us with purpose, that He knew our days before we were even born. The Psalmist even goes on to say:
17 How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
How great is the sum of them!
18 If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand;
When I awake, I am still with You.
Yes, that is a blessed assurance indeed! As the sons of Korah wrote, "God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble." (Psalms 46:1) God knows us and all that has gone into our being, and He has plans for a hope and a future for us. (Jeremiah 29:11) Those myriad thoughts of blessing and love from God give hope to the despairing and strengthen the faith of the doubting. But let us not forget this: God formed ALL of us with purpose and with love. Yes, He formed my own inward parts, and He formed the beauty mark on my daughter's face, my son's deep brown eyes, my mother's short stature and my father's strong arms, but God also formed the bodies and days of those who hate us and revile us. ALL of us are children of God, and it is only by our choices that we prove ourselves to be anything other than that.
As exasperating as teenagers can be at times, my children are yet full of God's grace, and I do my best to impart to them God's wisdom. As much as I don't want them to stumble as I did, I know that someday they might just do that. Despite any stumbling, I am assured that God seeks their good fortune, that His love and grace are theirs for the asking. I know that God blesses those who stumble because He has blessed ME! (1 Timothy 1:12-15) And so, as my children grow up, as their bodies continue that course laid out for them by the gentle hands of the Creator, I rejoice in knowing that, despite all they may face and the troubles they may endure, God and His love will always be with them.
And God is with our enemies, too. He desires that all men should repent and that none should perish (2 Peter 3:9), and yet some will. Some will continue to refuse His grace, refuse to believe on His Son as God and Savior, refuse to accept that their life is not their own. Despite all the evidence of their eyes and their hearts, many will yet choose to have more faith in the flesh God formed for them than in the spirit He gave them. Despite their having been made in His image, many will turn from the Father and follow the world and Satan instead.
So, is all this delicate formation of our inward parts for naught? Has God made a mistake in the people whose forms do not match our own? Has God formed evil in the hearts of men? Plainly not, because in today's verses, His Word tells us that we are all "fearfully and wonderfully made." (v.14) The Hebrew says we are literally made in awesome and fearful ways that distinguish us from all others. That is indeed wonderful! But evil comes from us following our own desires, it comes from what we do with this body we have been given. God knows our days before we are born, and yet He loves us nonetheless.
Having formed us from the clay and water of the earth and breathed into us to bring us life, God loves us despite our failings. Like any good Dad, our heavenly Father wants to train us up right, He wants to lead us down the narrow path to righteousness, He wants to see us flourish in faith and in love. And so, His thoughts toward us are precious and true, full of His love and grace. Even in His righteousness and justice, He yet finds room for compassion and mercy toward us. It is no coincidence that my favorite Bible verse is this:
But God demonstrates His own love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
And Christ having died for us gives us the hope and the future God the Father has promised. Jesus is the precious jewel of God's righteousness, the very Lamb of God slain for the redemption of mankind. Who among us would so willingly sacrifice our son or our daughter to die for others? Who among us would walk as that obedient Son to the cross of Calvary to die for all humanity? Who among us loves even our enemies, loves even those who hate us, loves even those whom we have never seen--loves them so much we would allow heathens to nail our Son to a tree? As the old hymn says, "How deep the Father's love for us, how vast beyond all measure, that He should give His only Son to make a wretch His treasure!" That is how precious we are to God!
As I reflect on the birth of my daughter (and my son, too!), I cannot help but think of the pain the Father must have felt in watching His beloved Son die in the midst of scoffers and thieves. And yet that love the Father and Son expressed on that day is what enables me--wretched sinner that I am--to stand and to have the blessings of my own children. It is in God's love that I can look upon my precious daughter and son and know, truly KNOW, that there is hope and grace abounding in this world. As the beloved apostle John wrote:
1 John 4:9-10
9 In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.
10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
Wish my precious daughter a happy birthday, and while you're at it, share God's grace with someone you don't know or with someone who has treated you badly. Give to ALL of God's children the love He has first given us. Show them all that He has indeed made them unique and beloved. Praise the Lord our God for having made the broken and the upright, the young and the old, the friend and the enemy, the able and the disabled, the healthy and the weak. Praise God for His marvelous works, of which you and I are but a few. And remember that ALL of God's children are fearfully and wonderfully made.
Holy Lord God, how precious are Your thoughts to me! How precious is Your Word, Your Son, Your Creation! Father God, I thank You for making me a father, too, for giving me the opportunity to express Your love and Your grace to the world through children You have entrusted to my care. I pray, Father, that You give me wisdom and courage and faith to be a good father. And for all of the parents and children of the world, I pray that You give them the understanding that we are all made in Your holy image, fearfully and wonderfully formed with love and hope and grace. Amen.