"For it was you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; that I know 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 behold my unformed substance. In your book were written all the days that were formed for me, when none of them as yet existed."
So much of the bad that has happened in my life has been around the malfunction and brokenness of bodies: preeclampsia for me (twice!) resulting in premature deliveries of my daughters, Lily's cancer and my brother's disability and his death. The logical part of me loves to make the connection to those things and this Psalm--preeclampsia was horrible; but had Lily been born on her due date, she would not have been old enough for the proton radiation that saved her life. Her cure started with my sickness--and God worked His good through that. And my beautiful brother: his death gave life and sight to several people--a gift beyond measure.
Those logical connections give me some strength and certainty to move forward on hard days. But, then again, sometimes I see it all in an opposite way: why did I get sick? Why was Lily sick? Why did my brother have to die?
The Psalm provides no answers to those questions--beyond "God knows things," and that is super frustrating.
I was thinking about all this today when Lily was preparing for her indoor regatta on the rowing machines. She was so nervous. We prayed. She remained nervous. She cried. She prayed again. Then she cried again. One of her coaches spoke to her--told her to do her best. Lily sat there. She could have, at that point, stood up and said "Not today." But, of course, she did not. Lily shows up.
During the race, there were a few times she paused; and then Lily started back up again. She kept going and going. The other competitors finished and Lily kept going--pushing and pulling and rowing and taking those final strokes until she crossed the finish line.
Lily makes me proud everyday; but today, I filled with more pride than ever before.
Still, I thought, why does everything have to be so much work for Lily? And then I thought about Psalm 139 again, the parts that talk about how God made each of us and how wonderful are God's works. This extends well beyond the body--God made our spirits--our souls. He knit us together with the things we need to navigate the plan He has for us.
God knit my daughter into a graceful, beautiful, loving, loyal, fierce, courageous soul who wants more than her body is sometimes willing to give; but she persists and pushes. For Lily, "No" does not mean "never," "No" means "Not now, but someday." She breathed when doctors feared she would not. She lived when cancer tried to kill her. She walked when she wasn't supposed to. She rows even when she comes in last--because God made Lily's soul able to endure the hard, horrible things that are part of her story.
I wish she did not have these hard things; but I don't wish away the incredible young woman that she was created to be.
God made our souls, too, friends. And while I will endlessly question why our bodies must break, I find such peace and joy in knowing that our bodies are no matches for our souls--the part of us that lives forever and always and intricately woven by God the Father, Almighty. It is that just that we can do hard things; it is that we can do everything, because God built us.