The psalmist firmly believed the story of creation in which God himself formed Adam with his own hands. In fact, it was clear to him that the miracle of life was God’s work from start to finish, and he saw in his relationship with God that human life was on a different level from all other life. He recognized God’s creative work in each human being from before the moment of conception. The psalmist could never have considered carving up the body of an unborn child to sell the pieces, because he saw how sacred was the relationship between God and each human throughout his life.
He did not think that a human was born by accident. He knew that a human was created and born for relationship with God. Elsewhere in this psalm, the writer declares that God never lets human beings escape his attention:
7 Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
–Psalm 139:7-8 ESV
He might as well have said that we can run, but we cannot hide from God.
When Jesus humbled himself and came to earth in human flesh, he did not cease being the God who seeks out human companionship and knows humans inside out. In the gospel of John, we read:
47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” 48 Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.”
—John 1:47-48 ESV
Nathanael’s response, “Rabbi, You are the Son of God,” is not a knee-jerk reaction to the statement of a fortune-teller. It is the recognition that knowing human beings is part of God’s character. Nathanael knew the psalms, and he knew about the creation of human beings. He recognized that the “knowing” of Jesus was far beyond the mere knowledge of sacred writings. Jesus knew who Nathanael was far beneath his skin.
By the time John wrote his gospel, he had had a lot of time to think about what he saw during the time he walked Galilee with Jesus. John affirmed what he saw in Jesus. He said, “[Jesus] needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.” John 2:25 ESV
When we read that a state has declared that people may end their own lives whenever they wish, or that a government somewhere in the world has authorized doctors to practice euthanasia, or when we read that the UN has declared it a universal human right for a woman to destroy her own unborn child if she likes, we shake our heads. Why do people treat human life so casually? God himself has acted in the creation and development of every human life. He knows each of us even before we are formed, certainly long before we are born. Each of us clearly has a place in God’s infinite and eternal plan. How can anyone presume to end a life before God takes it?
We Christians are accused of utter disregard for the woman whose body has been invaded by an alien being we call a baby. The culture calls it the “products of conception,” or “a blob of cells.” We recoil in horror at the idea that doctors will be motivated to encourage patients to sign “Do Not Resuscitate” orders. We are accused of expecting a family, or a patient’s estate, or even the government to keep paying and paying to keep someone alive long after he or she has ceased to contribute anything to the community. It is not easy to stand up when a cultural steamroller threatens.
How do we stay calm and stand strong in the midst of this chaos and destruction?
- We must put our hope in God, not in government.
- We must remember that God is still sovereign and that he has never surrendered any item of his purpose for humankind. The suffering and death of Christ tell us how much God loves the people he creates and knows so well. The resurrection of Christ promises us that the time/space continuum is not the end.
- We nurture our relationship with God through prayer and Bible study, and we nurture the fellowship of family, church, and friends.
- Most of all, we refuse to succumb to the temptation to feel like victims. Because Christ lives, we are never victims no matter how things look. We can trust the God who already knows us, the God who has already poured the blood of Jesus over us to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. We can pray with the psalmist:
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
24 And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!
By Katherine Harms, author of Oceans of Love available for Kindle at Amazon.com.
Image: Open Bible
By Wnorbutas (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0