To Say the Right Thing

Posted on January 28, 2009 · Posted in Parenting, Shaping Influences, Worldview

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, O God!
    How vast is the sum of them! Psalm 139:13-17

I read the following comment on a blog that was posted
yesterday, January 27. It was written by a mom hurting from a cruel, nasty
comment made to her daughter because of a prominent birthmark.

The girl on the bus
pointed at her birthmark–the one just below her left eye–and told her she
looked stupid.

The soft confession came from my little girl, who was staring at the
floor. A groan escaped me and I grabbed my daughter close. And I did exactly
what I shouldn't have: I cried. Will it
get easier to be strong?
Will it get easier to say the right thing in
response to pain?

Perhaps these words may bring comfort to this mother and her
daughter.

A birthmark, curly hair, freckles, gangly arms, large feet—these
are all things that may seem out of place, less than perfect. Why? Because they
may not match someone’s stereotype of a human body. In a culture that features
Barbie dolls and makeovers of all kinds, “different” is often equated with “not
good.” Children are particularly adept in pointing out things that are
different. Children are also born with the capacity and even the desire to hurt
others. It comes naturally (Galatians 5:19-21).
So, to answer this young mom, cruelty is always hard to experience, especially
when you see it directed toward your child. However, there are several important
truths to consider that will help you and your child respond well to such
hurtful comments.

The first matter to clear up is the cause of the cruelty. This
cruel response was not caused by the birthmark, but by the sinfulness of the
girl on the bus. The birthmark is not the reason for the cruelty, even though
it is the occasion of the cruelty.

Let’s not accept the assessment of the unkind bus mate over
the teaching of God’s word. Psalm 139 expresses God’s intimate involvement in
the shaping of our physical bodies, and then includes a prayer of gratitude for
the way that we are made. The psalmist says God knit him together in his
mother’s womb according to God’s own thoughts—so he rejoices because he is
fearfully and wonderfully made. The psalm clearly indicates that God gave
careful thought to how he made the psalmist’s body. These thoughts of God then
became a source of wonder and awe. And remember, David did not write this psalm
only for himself. It was written for a choir, to be sung as an encouragement to
all of God’s people—of various shapes, sizes, proportions, and, yes,
birthmarks. None of us is the product of random chance, and that includes the
way we look. This birthmark was God’s particular choice for this girl. It may
be different than most, but it is God’s choice. So there is nothing cruel about
the birthmark. The only cruelty comes from a foolish child who is, in effect, calling
God stupid, as the girl on the bus did.

The next matter to consider is God’s purpose. Why did he
give this beautiful little girl a birthmark? We don’t know the details, of
course, but we do know principles that certainly apply. We know from James 1:2-4
that trials are given to test our faith and produce steadfastness. Just as a
test in school motivates a student to learn and then reveals his progress, so a
trial in life provides an opportunity for growth in grace, and then reveals
progress in godliness.

James 1:2-4  Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet
trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces
steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be
perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Finally, remember that “for those who love God all things
work together for good.” Who knows how many ways God might use this birthmark
for good? How many times might God use the godly, faithful response of a child
to instruct and bless others?  And what a
blessing could it be for a child to learn at an early age to trust and love the
God who made her, and to overcome evil with good?

I would encourage this mom to rejoice in these words of the
psalmist, the apostle Paul, and James; then, in turn, to help her daughter
rejoice. Yes, God gave her daughter a distinctive birthmark. He did it on
purpose, and it can be responded to with awe and wonder. The sadness in this
situation is greater for the little girl who, perhaps unwittingly, is saying
that God did a stupid thing. To make fun of what God has done is not wise.

The birthmark is a gift of God to this girl. She has not
been cursed, but blessed. If a child asks her about the birthmark she can say,
“I don’t know why I have this mark. But I do know that God wanted me to have
it. It is special to me.“ For the daughter to embrace this powerful expression
of God’s purpose in her life, this little girl’s mother must believe it first. Over
time, as both mother and daughter look at reality from the perspective of Psalm
139, doubt will turn to joy. This little girl is indeed fearfully and
wonderfully made!

I pray this will be an encouragement to this mom and her
daughter. Thanks to Tim Challies for pointing out to me this mother’s post. We
will return to the current series with the next post.

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