For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand— when I awake, I am still with you.
We are at the start of another New Year and for a great many of us that means that we are hoping to kick off a year in which the healthier, thinner, stronger, more controlled version of ourselves at last becomes a reality. Health and physical wellness are indeed very important. How we take care of our bodies can reflect how we view ourselves and our purpose and worth before God. So any effort to improve ourselves physically requires us to first improve ourselves spiritually- to deepen our understanding of why God made us physical beings and what He has to say about our bodies and how we should view them.
Our culture is at war with itself on this topic right now. The vast majority of images projected into our consciousness depict physical beauty and worthiness as thin, fit and impossibly attractive. Even our thinnest and most beautiful counterparts are edited to even more unrealistic levels of perfection before they are inserted into our advertisements and media. But at the same time, society wars against ‘fat-shaming’ and doing anything that might suggest to a person, no matter their size, weight, health or appearance that they are anything but beautiful. It feels contradictory to have impossible models always held up as the standard of beauty but then to be told that regardless of how opposite from them you are, it doesn’t matter, you’re still beautiful.
These two, seemingly opposing aspects of culture are, strangely enough, both rooted in our heart’s knowledge of our Creator’s view of us and His promise of a perfected, eternal life. The fit supermodel reflects our yearning for the physical perfection that awaits us in Heaven and the battle cry of ‘beauty in all sizes’ reflects that we know that even with our earthly shortcomings, the One who determines ultimate beauty and worth looks upon us and cries ‘MINE!’
There is so much that can and should be said about physical health and how it relates to our relationship with the Lord, but it is important to start by recognizing what David recognizes here in Psalm 139. The Psalmist recognizes that God created us. We were designed by choice and with purpose. Not only were we created on purpose, we were created well. The workings of the human body are utterly incredible in their complexity and function and these are the broken forms! David also says that our bodies were not hidden from the sight of God which is incredibly telling. That means that our bodies’ design is holy. God has pre-ordained all our days on this earth. He knows how long our lives will be and what journey our body will go through here, whether long or short. David wraps up by praising God for His thoughts because he knows that he was born in the thoughts of God and he grasps what an honor that is.
The God of the universe thought of you, planned your exact design and called you into being. His thoughts, like His people, outnumber the grains of sand yet we are among them always. We were not thought of by God and then forgotten. He formed us in the womb, brought us out into life and carries us in His thoughts all our days and into eternity. We have great value to God and that is shown by how much He thinks of us, let alone what He does for us.
So as you start 2017, whatever physical goals you may have for yourself, remember Who formed you and Who gives you ultimate value- it is not the glossy magazine or the glowing screen or the opinions of others. The God of heaven and earth designed you and loves you and calls you His own. Always start there when you go to consider how to value and care for the body He gave you.