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.
In December 2004 we learned that our son, Elijah, had Down Syndrome. Since then this Psalm has made me angry. I tend to think that Down Syndrome is part of living in a fallen world rather than something God created on purpose, but this Psalm seems to indicate otherwise. So, I have been complaining to God, "If you knit Elijah together in my womb, why isn't he 'perfect'? He has a birth defect. How am I supposed to call that wonderful?"
Now, let me be clear, I love Elijah. He is a great kid with a wonderful laugh and he brings us so much joy. When we first received his diagnosis I thought he might be a burden to care for, but he isn't. Taking care of Elijah is not that much different than raising his brother Josiah.
That being said, I still irks me to think that God intentionally "knit" Elijah together with an extra chromosome and I have been quite open with God about this. I have been reading Philip Yancey's new book Prayer. His chapters on unanswered prayer have been particularly helpful. Last night I read the chapter on physical healing, which mentions Down Syndrome specifically and talks about how God usually chooses to work within the laws of nature. Miracles happen, but they are the exception rather than the rule.
When I finished the chapter I talked with God regarding Down Syndrome yet again. And this time the image that came to mind was God carefully knitting a child together, but using yarn that was dirty and broken. The yarn was not his choice, but it was what he had to work with and he made the most beautiful child he could using imperfect materials.
Elijah is a wonderful creation of God. He may not be "perfect," but God took imperfect genes and "knit together" a beautiful child. Elijah is fearfully and wonderfully made. I don't understand the mysteries of how God works in a fallen world, but I trust his goodness. And for the first time in a long time Psalm 139 brings tears of joy instead of tears of pain.