God’s Perfect Knowledge (Psalm 139:15-16)
My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. 16 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 were none of them. —Psalm 139:15-16
We know a lot more about unborn babies today than we did even a few years ago. New technologies allow us to see the tiniest changes in their development. Happy parents post ultrasound pictures on Facebook that show us a new person is on the way!
Clearly, God is doing a good thing in that womb.
But sometimes the technology reveals a different kind of news. The child isn’t developing like most children: a limb is missing, the brain is too small, or an organ is in the wrong place.
And God is again doing a good thing.
You might be thinking, “Isn’t that the definition of tragedy? Isn’t this a sign of how broken the world really is?”
There is nothing light or whimsical or romantic in my stating that God is doing a good thing in disability. For 18 years my family has been intimately acquainted with severe disability. The impact on children and families is enormous and extraordinarily hard, infiltrating every area of family life.
And God is doing a good thing.
First, scripture leads to such a conclusion: "You are good and do good; teach me your statutes" (Psalm 119:68).
Second, God gives us insight into two different kinds of sight in Psalm 139:15-16. The first is related to the kind of sight that technology provides to us today. God has always been able to see the development of his miraculous little human creations; we are fortunate today to get a small glimpse of what God knows completely. The very instant ‘something goes wrong’ in the womb, he knows it.
But the second kind of sight is even more important. God sees the future perfectly, so perfectly that he has already recorded it even before any of those days began! But it would be very wrong to conclude that he is simply a passive observer or an unusually good predictor.
Psalm 139:13 teaches us that God is the one doing the ‘knitting together’ in the womb. And God even more clearly shows his intentionality in Exodus 4:11 by taking credit for making some who will live with disabilities.
And our Lord Jesus is celebrated as not just one who participates in creation, but as the one who makes all things: "All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made" (John 1:3). That ‘all things’ includes little babies God knits together who will live an atypical life because of disability (and their parents).
Which means Psalm 139:16 is good news for suffering people! Every rotten day of treatments and therapies and bills and loneliness and tears are known by God. In fact, he is keeping a record even of sleepless nights and tears: "You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?" Psalm 56:8.
Mercifully, God doesn’t make that the end of the story. Our Jesus knows perfectly what suffering is because he experienced it himself (Hebrews 2:10). So when the days that are written for us or for our children include suffering, we know they come from God’s hand for the purpose of bringing God glory and for our good (Romans 8:28).
So, Christian, live in hope in the perfect knowledge of God who has brought you, as great a sinner as you are, from death to life (John 5:24), who knows what you need before you even ask (Matthew 6:8), and who has promised he will make all things new (Revelation 21:5). That book has already been written!