I wrote most of these words two years ago after the birth of our fifth child. When I found it this week while cuddling a new daughter, I was encouraged and I thought I'd share it with you.
A few days ago, I knew little about our baby. I knew well the shape of her poking elbows and knees, but didn’t know if she had a button nose like her brother. I knew she had the hiccups nearly daily, but I didn't know if she had dark hair like her sister. I didn’t know her weight or even if this new baby was a daughter or son.
There is so much more I still don't know about this child's future. What will her personality be like? Will she be strong-willed or laid back? Will she be calm or full of energy? Will she be bold or shy? What will she like to do in her spare time? Will she enjoy reading like her sister? Or climbing like her brother? What will she see and experience? Where will she travel? Who will she meet? How will her life impact others? How will her life affect mine?
And then there are the other questions, the ones asked when a baby does not live to be cuddled by his mother. The heartbreak of a miscarriage or still-birth, the empty arms and shattered dreams, are multiplied by the sorrow of never knowing the dear child. Never seeing him smile like Mommy or watching his eyes sparkle like Daddy's. Never hearing his lisping words or watching her personality emerge.
But there is One who does know.
Jeremiah 1:5 says “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.” God knew Jeremiah before he was born, and He already had a plan for Jeremiah's life.
I searched the Scripture and found this isn't the only time God knew a person's future before their birth. Isaiah includes at least four verses that describe how God formed Isaiah in the womb for a purpose. “Thus saith the LORD that made thee, and formed thee from the womb, which will help thee...He that formed thee from the womb, I am the Lord that maketh all things....The Lord hath called me from the womb; from the bowels of my mother hath he made mention of my name....the Lord that formed me from the womb to be his servant.” Isaiah 44:2,24, 49:1,5
Psalm 139:13-15 also describes God’s knowledge of us before our birth. “Thou hast covered me in my mother's womb. I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made:...My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret,...Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written.”
Other examples in Scripture are the birth of Rebekah's twin sons, the calling of Samson before his conception, and the announcement of John the Baptist's birth. In each one, God knew the child's destiny before their birth. Before their first breath they had an identity to God. These children were real people, not just a blob of tissue. God recognized these unborn children as human before their birth.
If God sees us when we are “unperfect,” or unformed, and already has us recorded in His book, obviously He sees even the unborn as a living soul with an eternal destiny. This gives me assurance that He cares about those tiny babies whose lives are snuffed out before birth. I might not know the details of a miscarried baby, but He does, and He had a purpose in their few days on earth.
Today, with all the uncertainties of life, I can become fearful when I look at my tiny baby and imagine all the frightening events her eyes could see. But the God, who knows the end from the beginning, knows my daughter too. My goal is to train her to know the God who created her for His glory.
Someday, may each of us—my daughter, the children who were never born, and me, bring praise to our Creator who knew us from the beginning. “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” Revelation 4:11