More Like Someone Else
I wish I had blond hair and pretty like her. Why don’t we have the money to take trips like they do? Why am I bigger than other kids? Why was I born with this illness? Why do I have to be in a wheelchair? These are questions our children will ask. Some are petty and will pass with time. Some are personal and real. They may want to be more like someone else. They may be unhappy with their current circumstances. What answer will we give them?
An Unpromising Beginning
The late author, teacher and Navigator, Jerry Bridges was born with what seemed a number of disadvantages. He recalled that his parents were, “financially poor, education dropouts, and religiously and socially isolated.” He was, himself, born with four significant physical defects: He was cross-eyed, deaf in his right ear, and had deformities in his breastbone as well as his spine.
This was a significant setback at the outset as it would be for anyone. It is starting off at a disadvantage when compared with others. His family’s financial situation did not allow for him to have his eyes fixed or get his ears and other defects checked.
Yet, it is absolutely remarkable, as he looks back and recounts 80 years later, at what God taught him about his condition; about the purpose and preciseness of the providence of God in his “disadvantaged” beginnings . Here is what he had to say later in life:
“Years later, as I thought back on my early childhood from the advantage of knowing what I had learned about the providence of God, two verses of Scripture helped. They are Psalm 139: 13 and 16: “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. . . . Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.”
First of all, I realized that God had created me to be physically the person He wanted me to be, birth defects and all. When I look at David’s phrase, “you knitted me together in my mother’s womb,” I can think, “David, you did not know anything about genetics that we know today,” but the truth is, the Holy Spirit, who guided David to write those words, knows infinitely more about genetics than the most brilliant scientists. So when He guides David to say, “You knitted me together in my mother’s womb,” He is saying that God so controlled the genetics that I became physically exactly the person He wanted me to be.
The same is true about the fact that the days that were ordained for me, including those early difficult days, were written in His book before one of them came to be. So I was born physically exactly the way God wanted me to be and to parents who were poor, uneducated, and socially isolated, all because that was the plan God ordained for me.
In his autobiography, Jerry Bridges, in retrospect, saw this as providential. His remarkable life tells the story of him, because of his disadvantaged beginnings, having to learn to trust and depend on God for all things; from his education, to his work with the Navigators, to his marriage (and loss), to his health problems later in life.
Most importantly, he learned personally and first-hand that God makes no mistakes in how he forms us or in the situation he puts us. This is true of every image bearer.
So what can we glean from this? What principle from his life can we apply in answering our own children’s perceived disadvantages or their desires to be more like someone else? Here it is:
“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. . . . Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” (Psalm 139: 13, 16)
This verse proved very powerful in Jerry’s life and should be in yours as well. Here are two reasons why:
- God created you exactly as he intended; in every detail. There are no mistakes with God. There is a purpose in your condition, circumstance, appearance, etc. It is not a setback, but an opportunity to seek Him and his purposes in your life and act on them.
- God has providentially placed you in a particular environment. This includes your location, socioeconomic status, etc. You do not yet know the plans God has for you in this, but you can be certain that your days have been ordained by God. The best and highest duty is to accept that and seek out his purposes in them. There come a day when you can look back and see his hand in all things.
It can be expected that a child may not fully grasp these things depending on their age, but you can be certain that it is the sure foundation of God’s word that will stay rooted in them. It is the only true, and at the same time best, answer for any dissatisfaction or doubt. Instead of trying to be more like someone else or wishing to have better circumstances, it is important that they understand that there are no mistakes with God. And thus, there are no mistakes with them, but an ordained purpose in it.