[Note: If you have or are experiencing infertility or loss, please note that the thoughts below address conception and are vigorously expressed; they are not, however, intended to be uncaring or indifferent to your circumstances.]
Oh who can make a flower?
I’m sure I can’t; can you?
Oh who can make a flower?
No one but God, ‘tis true.
My sweet angel biscuit of a baby girl turned one a few weeks ago. ONE! 365 days of sheer delight. (Mostly – I’ll admit there have been some middle-of-the-night lamentations over lost sleep!) I thank God every day for this precious gift!
I could write thousands of words on her personal attributes for sure, but at this particular moment I feel compelled to use the occasion to make an observation on a problematic line of thinking I’ve encountered consistently between my time of pregnancy and motherhood.
Back story: our little one is a miracle. No bones about it – as I’ve alluded to before, our daughter’s very existence defies expectation. I was told more than once, by more than one doctor, that my best chance of having children was prior to the age of 30, and that it would not be a surprise if even that required some level of medical intervention. It was something I had to trust God with throughout my single twenties, time and again. What a grand and joyful gift to discover that I was pregnant, just a few short months into marriage!
Partially because of this experience, I do not take the miracle of life and conception for granted, having had plenty of time and opportunity for reflection upon it. It has made me exceptionally attuned to the kinds of questions that have been asked surprisingly freely over the last couple of years:
Was she planned?
Do you want more?
How many do you want to have?
When are you going to have another one?
On it goes…the give-and-take exchange of questions and personal experiences, often reflecting some interesting worldviews on the subject of children.
In a previous paragraph, I called this a “problem.” Is that because it’s a pretty personal issue? Is it because I’m Catholic? (I’m not, by the way.) Is it because I’m against birth control? No, no, and not exactly…and honestly, I’m really not trying to write some broad-based, oversimplified treatise on birth control methods, the quantity or spacing of children, or other worthy but complicated philosophical deep-dives. (It’s naptime for baby girl, and I’m on a time limit! :)) My only aim is to point out the fact that these questions and comments are frequently inconsistent with what we as Christians say we believe about God’s sovereignty regarding the existence of life.
Perhaps no Scripture that supports this topic is as well-known as Psalm 139:
“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. 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)
Read that again. And again. And as many times as it takes for it to really take hold that, when it comes to the existence of human life, it is ridiculous at best (and a mockery at worst) for our thoughts and speech to reflect a belief that we are at all in “control” of it. As the old Sunday School song I quoted earlier causes us to pause and think, we cannot make a flower, much less a baby. We could not create ex nihilo a single-celled organism if our life depended on it! We are helpless and impotent, utterly dependent and kept every moment by the undeserved grace and goodness of God. Shouldn’t our words reflect that belief? By contrast, the Bible eloquently extols the magnificent attributes of our Creator, who, in the mystery of His omniscience and omnipotence, purposefully ordains each and every life long before it comes into being. Shouldn’t our words reflect that belief also?
I do not make these observations from the top of some holy hill; I’m simply trying to point us all to the Holy One…Lord of the universe, Maker of heaven, earth, and every created being. There is endless room for reflection, application, and dare I say improvement when it comes to this topic; affirming the sanctity of life in a “pro-life”, political sense, which is often a believer’s only distinguishing characteristic from a secular worldview, just scratches the surface.
So let’s get real and a little bit uncomfortable: maybe it’s time to pray and ask God to reframe your perspective or to give you greater faith in His grand design. Maybe it’s time to evaluate whether or not your birth control philosophy or method is consistent with a biblical worldview. (Oops…said I wasn’t going there! But while I’m at it, on the other end of the spectrum, maybe it’s also time to give some serious thought to the ethical ramifications of procedures like IVF.) Maybe it’s time to reword your standard little joke about where babies come from. Maybe it’s time to use those precious opportunities for celebrating new life or conversing over a little one to magnify the providence of God instead of the personal preferences of man. Maybe it’s time for greater boldness in speaking truth and encouraging others in this area.
Once again, I find myself longing for more time and better words to more fully and eloquently express my thoughts; I have no desire to be clumsy with something so sacred and important. But I stand by my affirmation of “no one but God, ’tis true”, and pray that the concept is both challenging and encouraging to you as well.