Psalm 139 is the Bible’s celebration of God’s creation and providence as they pertain to human life. Like the psalmist, author Walter Wangerin Jr. reflects on the marvel God works in utero between conception and birth:
Are children a gift to their elders? No—not till children are grown and their elders are older indeed. Then they are the gift of the [fifth] commandment, honoring hoary heads which have begun to feel past honor. But until then, it is we who are given, by God’s parental mercy, to the children! And it is we who must give to the children—by lovely laughter, by laughter utterly free, and by the sheer joy from which such laughter springs—the lasting memory: You are, you are, you are, my child, a marvelous work of God!
And in his heartrending words to a child who has been ravaged by physical and sexual abuse, Wangerin clearly has this psalm in mind:
You, child: you are as soft as the blue sky. Touch your cheek. Do you feel the weft of life there? Yes: God wove you more lovely than wool of the clouds, smoother than petals of lily, sweeter than amber honey, brighter than morning, kinder than daylight, as gentle as the eve. Listen to me! You are beautiful. You are beautiful. If you think you’re ugly, you’ve let a fool define you. Don’t! Touch your throat. It is a column of wind and words. Stroke your forehead. Thought moves through its caverns. Imagination lives in there. You are the handiwork of the Creator. You are his best art, his poem, his portrait, his image, his face—and his child.
God caused the stars to be, and then bent low to make you.
God wrapped himself in space as in an apron, then contemplated the intricacy of your hands; he troweled the curve of your brow; he fashioned the tug of your mouth and the turn of your tongue; he jeweled your eye; he carved your bones as surely as he did the mountains …
You are not an accident. You were planned. You are the cunning intention of almighty God. Well, then, shall you think ill of yourself? NO! You shall think as well of yourself as you do of any marvel of the Deity.
Please, my sister, do not allow a sinner to steal you from yourself. You are too rare. No matter what filth has befouled you, your soul is unique in the cosmos. There is none like you. Whatever thing you admire—a leaf, a little cup, a sunset—you are more beautiful.
Sleep peacefully, you. God loves you. And so do I. And so ought you in the morning light, when the dew is a haze of blue innocence. But sleep now, child, in perfect peace. You are God’s—and he spreads his wings above you now.
Lord, you have made me perfect just the way I am. I praise you for your work. I rejoice in the love and care that brought me into being. Help the knowledge of this depth of love to sink into my soul.