A friend, who has a physical defect from birth, recently asked me, “How can I say I am fearfully and wonderfully made?” She said that she knows that God is perfect but doesn’t understand why He made her imperfectly, and according to her understanding of this verse in Psalm 139:14, by design. She went on to say that it has caused her a life of heartache and trouble with people being especially cruel. She needs new perspective. My heart goes out to her as I have watched this trouble going along with her wherever she goes. Can you offer some new insight or direction? She knows I’m writing to you, by the way.
Yours in Christ, Sue
Sue, thanks for asking this very real and raw question on behalf of your friend.
It’s relatively easy for one who enjoys a well put together body to embrace the verse in Psalm 139 which celebrates that she is “fearfully and wonderfully made.” But, if one deals with the heartbreak and difficulty of a deformity or handicap, that verse becomes quite a challenge, and I would never want to simplify or diminish its application. So, if the Bible is true (and it is), that verse is true for the one who was born without handicap or deformity, and it is equally true for the one who is born with handicap or deformity. Yet, how do we rectify that fact with the hard feelings and confusion the verse brings to the heart and mind of one with a “defect?”
I’ll just be honest. I have found consolation in Exodus 4:11 when it comes to being blind, because I believe it just as much as I believe Psalm 139:13-15. “Then the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord?” (Ex. 4:11) God does what God does and I do not understand His ways. I don’t know why He chooses to express His creativity in allowing one to be born supposedly “perfectly formed” and one be born supposedly “deformed.” I don’t know how to reconcile those infinite facts with my finite mind. But, even if I could explain theological mysteries, the explanation wouldn’t bring comfort.
Only God brings true comfort.
Perhaps, I can offer something more meaningful than explanation. For years with blindness, I’ve been able to maintain decent eye contact just by having good muscle control in my eyes and being able to listen well and track sound. But, in the past year, my left eye has begun to betray me. It can’t maintain focus because my muscle control has waned. Since I do a lot of video, this is becoming very uncomfortable. But what really bothers me is that I am so self-aware that I look odd. I don’t want to feel that self conscious–I want to rest in God and in the fact that I am fearfully and wonderfully made, just as I am.
Does God’s handiwork show up in a wandering left eye that looks awkward and makes others feel awkward because they don’t know where to focus when they’re looking at me?
I feel the sting of embarrassment, awkwardness, and being different.
The truth of Psalm 139 is easier to reconcile on a spiritual plane between me and God than it is on an emotional and relational plane. So, I guess I am saying, in a very small way, I may know how your friend feels. It’s hard to be different. Even if you can come to terms that your deformity or handicap is part of God’s “fearful and wonderful” workmanship, you still have to reconcile that truth with the feelings that are stirred by your bathroom mirror and the stares of others. That’s the really hard part.
I wish I could wave a wand and a new perspective would appear! I long to say just the right words to give your friend an “aha!” that would comfort her. I want to give truths, facts, quotes, scriptures and anecdotes to make your friend feel better when life hurts. But, sometimes the best gift I can give is not answers, but instead, empathy. So, the only worthy beans I can spill on this are, “I do believe she is fearfully and wonderfully made; I know in a very small way how she feels and…my blind eyes think she’s beautiful!”
Your friend, Jennifer
What do you think? Can you tell us about someone you know who is fearfully and wonderfully made? Leave a comment here.