Blessed be the Lord….who alone does wondrous things.(Psalm 72:18)
David said, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made”(Psalm 139:14). We might say, “That’s well enough for David, he was handsome, athletic, skilled in war, and a gifted musician. But look at me. I’m very ordinary, physically and mentally.” In fact, some people feel they don’t even measure up to ordinary.
I understand people who feel that way. In addition to having hearing and vision disabilities, I’ve never been excited about my physical appearance. But God didn’t give His own Son handsome features in His human body. “He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him”(Isaiah 53:2). Jesus, at best, was apparently nondescript in His physical appearance. This never bothered shim nor interfered with His carrying out His Father’s will.
David praised God not because he was handsome but because God made him. Dwell on that thought: The eternal God, infinite in His wisdom and perfect in His love, personally made you and me. He gave you your body, your mental abilities, and your basic personality because that’s the way He wanted you to be- and He loves you and wants to glorify Himself through you.
This is our foundation for self-acceptance. God sovereignly and directly created us to be who we are, disabilities, or physical flaws and all. We need to think like George MacDonald, who said, “I would rather be what God chose to make me than the most glorious creature that I could think of; for to have been thought about, born in God’s thought, and then made by God, is the dearest, grandest, and most precious thing in all thinking.”
The social disease that has spread more rapid than the current pandemic is that of wishing we were someone other than who we are and who God has made us to be. Even children are asked who they want to be like when they grow up and we’re expected to have some hero or heroine that we idolize. Fashions are usually set by those individuals. Conduct and actions, how we dress, what we say and do,even how we wear our hair comes from this strong desire to imitate that person whom we believe models the desired life.
We think, “O if I had what they have, if I could look like they look, if I was an athlete or musician or actor or ……….., I’d be on top of the world.” But if we read the life of those stars we discover they aren’t happier, or satisfied and in most cases are more miserable than the average person. Yet we continue this foolish journey of trying to be someone other that who God created us to be.
The founding fathers of our nation wrote the we have the liberty to pursue happiness. Yet as a nation we read everyday that suicide, substance abuse, depression and mental health issues are on the rise. We read this is not just a social I’ll experienced by non-Christians but by Christians as well. The root of all this is that daily we are pressured by the world to be something other than who we are. We are on a continuous treadmill to have the stuff everybody else has, to look like we’re expected to look even if in doing so we harm our bodies. We stuff ourselves into clothes and shoes that are uncomfortable, we do things we don’t even like, and we build a plastic public appearance that is supposed to convey to the public that we have the perfect life. Like the homeowner who rushes around like a mad person to make sure the house is spotless and everything in its proper place for company, we attempt to present ourselves that way. We compete even at an early age to be top of the class, the most handsome/beautiful, the most popular and find that all is fleeting. Solomon in Ecclesiastes tells us it’s vanity. Here is the handsome, all powerful son of David. He has all the power one could imagine; he’s the king; he has more wealth than probably anyone else in the world; he has at his beckoning 300 wives and 900 concubines; he has the best in clothes, food and entertainment and yet he tells us it’s all vanity. He missed what his father said for David said, “I’d rather be the doorkeeper in the house of the Lord than to dwell in the tents of the wicked.” We read that Solomon’s last days were miserable, nothing he had brought him pleasure and he felt that life was vanity. This feeling is not limited to a few for we read that people like Marlyn Monroe, Elvis Presley and a multitude of other popular icons died in misery, many by suicide for they were so miserable they no longer wished to live.
“Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher. “Vanity of vanities! All [that is done without God’s guidance] is vanity [futile, meaningless—a wisp of smoke, a vapor that vanishes, merely chasing the wind].” What advantage does man have from all his work Which he does under the sun (while earthbound)? All things are wearisome and all words are frail; Man cannot express it. The eye is not satisfied with seeing, Nor is the ear filled with hearing. That which has been is that which will be [again], And that which has been done is that which will be done again. So there is nothing new under the sun. Is there anything of which it can be said, “See this, it is new”? It has already existed for [the vast] ages [of time recorded or unrecorded] Which were before us. And I set my mind to seek and explore by [man’s] wisdom all [human activity] that has been done under heaven. It is a miserable business and a burdensome task which God has given the sons of men with which to be busy and distressed. I have seen all the works which have been done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity, a futile grasping and chasing after the wind. And I set my mind to know [practical] wisdom and to discern [the character of] madness and folly [in which men seem to find satisfaction]; I realized that this too is a futile grasping and chasing after the wind. I said to myself, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure and gratification; so enjoy yourself and have a good time.” But behold, this too was vanity (futility, meaninglessness). I said of laughter, “It is madness,” and of pleasure, “What does it accomplish?” I made great works: I built houses for myself; I planted vineyards for myself; I made gardens and orchards for myself and I planted in them all kinds of fruit trees; I made pools of water for myself from which to water the forest and make the trees bud. I bought male and female slaves and had slaves born in my house. I also possessed herds and flocks larger than any who preceded me in Jerusalem. Also, I collected for myself silver and gold and the treasure of kings and provinces. I provided for myself male singers and female singers, and the delights and pleasures of men— many concubines. So I became great and excelled more than all who preceded me in Jerusalem. My wisdom also remained with me. Whatever my eyes looked at with desire I did not refuse them. I did not withhold from my heart any pleasure, for my heart was pleased because of all my labor; and this was my reward for all my labor. Then I considered all which my hands had done and labored to do, and behold, all was vanity and chasing after the wind and there was no profit (nothing of lasting value) under the sun. Then I said to myself, “As it happens to the fool, so death will also happen to me. What use is it then for me to be extremely wise?” Then I said in my heart, “This too is vanity (meaningless).” For there is no [more] lasting remembrance of the wise man than of the fool, since in the days to come all will be long forgotten. And how does the wise man die? Even as the fool! So I hated life, for the work which had been done under the sun caused me only great sorrow; because all is futility and chasing after the wind. So I hated all the fruit (gain) of my labor for which I had labored under the sun, because I must leave it to the man who will succeed me. So I turned aside and let my heart despair over all the fruit of my labor for which I had labored under the sun. For there is a man who has labored with wisdom and knowledge and skill, yet gives his legacy to one who has not labored for it. This too is vanity and a great evil. For what does a man get from all his labor and from the striving and sorrow of his heart with which he labors under the sun? For all his days his work is painful and sorrowful; even at night his mind does not rest. This too is vanity (worthless). For to the person who pleases Him God gives wisdom, knowledge, and joy; but to the sinner He gives the work of gathering and collecting so that he may give to one who pleases God. This too is vanity and chasing after the wind.
What a sad view of life from one who had it all. This brings us to the question then of what do we do to have a full life and a life that is satisfying and joyful. Here it is: to know that God has “fearfully and wonderfully made us” to be exactly who we are. We may not be the most intelligent, the most gifted, the best looking but we don’t need to be to be accepted by God nor ourselves. We just need to be the best of who we are. Besides if God wanted you to be something else, He would have made you so. Second, we s get off the world’s treadmill of pressure living to social norms and expectations and live the life that God has designed us to live. We don’t have to be the best or have the best or be able to do the best to be accepted by our Father and loved by Him. Let me explain. None of my children would ever give Picasso any competition but when they brought home their art work and gave it to me I would have gladly hung it in any art museum as a masterpiece. Why? Because it was the creation and work of someone I loved and it was an expression of them and as their father, it was good enough to for me. This is our Heavenly Father. He just wants us to be the best us we can be.
Growing up as a child, my family wasn’t the most wealthy, at least in the things of this world. In the years of school, there were many miserable days. My clothes weren’t what everyone else was wearing so I didn’t fit in. I laugh and say that when I could finally afford polyester everyone was wearing denim and then I couldn’t afford denim. I couldn’t play sports, first because I was a skinny kid and then because after my father became disabled, I needed to work at home. So I never became the star quarterback or the pitcher. In high school while my friends were hanging out, I was home assisting my family. But all that changed in my senior year of high school. No my family didn’t suddenly become wealthy. No I didn’t have plastic surgery and all of a sudden become handsome. No I didn’t get taken be aliens and my brain power suddenly exploded making me a genius. No I didn’t get hit by lightening and given super powers as an athlete. But I met Jesus and He accepted me just like I was and am. From that moment it didn’t matter, for I had been accepted by the King of Glory. In that moment I went from the fearful, shy, incompetent, depressed kid to becoming the child of the King. I really wasn’t aware of all this until a few years later in a job interview. The interviewer asked me who I would be if I could be anybody in the whole world. I remember the look on his face as I replied, “I’m happy to be me”. He said, “You wouldn’t want to be the president or a famous athlete or movie star?” “Nope”, I replied, “just me.” O what liberty this is, being content with who God has made us to be. This is true victory over Satan, when we are content with who God made us to be, he has nothing left to tempt us with. Only those places in our lives that we see lack can Satan offer us his wares. It was in Eve’s perceived lack that Satan enticed her to eat the fruit. My prayer is that every reader will receive the wonderful revelation that “we have been fearfully and wonderfully made” in the image of God.
Then God said, “Let Us (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) make man in Our image, according to Our likeness [not physical, but a spiritual personality and moral likeness]; and let them have complete authority over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, the cattle, and over the entire earth, and over everything that creeps and crawls on the earth.” So God created man in His own image, in the image and likeness of God He created him; male and female He created them.
Dr. John Thompson