November 1, 2012

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

"...you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made..." (Psalm 139:13-14)

Frankly, I think the build quality is suspect.

OK, some of it is down to user error - my ankle surgery was necessitated by multiple injuries caused primarily by playing football very hard whilst overweight and unfit.

But as I sit here (well, 'lean back here' - sitting up for more than 2 minutes is still too painful) on day 6 after triple hernia surgery I am amazed (yet again), by both the resilience and fragility of God's finest creation: the human body.

You see, one of the many genius aspects of God's creative work, one of the many ways in which he shouts "I am here!", is the juxtaposition between the human body's ability to absorb sustained and severe punishment, and its tendency to become unusable due to apparently minute flaws.

We've all seen or heard of accidents, crashes and injuries that look like they should have been fatal, but that people have survived. Most of us have been bashed at some point - broken this, sprained that - but have recovered. We've all been ill and become healthy again. We've all been...let's say "occasionally sub-optimal"...with the fuel we take in but the engines of our major organs keep running. Some people even light fires in front of their faces and inhale the fumes for pleasure, and it can be years before they get sick as a result.

But then there is the flip side. Take my latest bid for a loyalty discount with a local surgeon: triple hernia surgery. I think I'd always assumed that my internal organs just kinda knew where they were supposed to sit, and so they sat there. After all, they all seem to be roughly where the biology textbooks say they should be, and I never notice any of them moving around (except of course when I had one of them pulled out of me - my gall bladder 10 years ago). Intestines stay where they're supposed to be cos...that's where they're supposed to be.

But hang on a moment, the human intestine is about 28 feet long...28 FEET!! That's a lot of guts to be just obediently and magically sitting there. And what keeps them there are abdominal muscles - not the attractive ones just under your ribcage beloved of 2-packers and 4-packers and wannabe 6-packers everywhere, but lower and deeper than that. They are held at a very specific tension: not so tight that you need the bathroom every five minutes, but not so loose that everything's wobbling about.

The tension is such that when one of those muscles is even slightly torn (in my case the split on one side was 3cm long), your intestines have a tendency to make a bold bid for freedom, as mine did. A bold bid that ultimately could have led to...well, to very messy, bad and potentially fatal things happening. One little, insignificant muscle tear and suddenly the whole body is under threat.

And now I lean/sit here, with who knows how many internal incisions and stitches, and three bits of plastic mesh that weren't inside me 6 days ago, with every reason to think that in a matter of weeks my body will once again give every appearance of being the punishment-absorbing, resilient sack of flesh it usually is.

But it also leaves me slightly the wiser about my maker. He is reminding me, again...
That health is a gift, and fitness likewise.
That I should be grateful for (modern) medicine.
That his design of the human body is so fearfully, finely balanced that only a creator God could come up with it. You can't get from amoeba to human by accident, no matter how many billions of years you give yourself. It's just too complicated, there are too many potential failure points.
That he programmed into this body powers of resilience and self-healing we rely on every day of our lives and take for granted just as often.
That my life is in the palm of his hand.
That I can't assume anything about how long I live, or how much health or fitness I'm going to enjoy during that time.
That therefore my entire life is a gift designed to be used and looked after for the glory of its maker.

That the build quality - even of my malfunctioning body - is just perfect. How can it be otherwise when every flaw teaches me more and more deeply about the creator of the universe - my Saviour?