Known from Birth
by: Jessica Bratt
As a chaplain at a children’s hospital, I frequently find myself standing alongside parents in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Together we marvel at the tiny, squirming new life in front of us, a new person who is, like all babies, utterly depen-dent and completely helpless to ensure his or her own survival. In the NICU, where babies are additionally vulnerable because of their medical needs, that reality is all the more stark.
When Christian parents ask me to pray for their new baby, I find it so powerful to call to mind the image of Jesus coming to this world as a baby. It is an image bursting with the conviction that God intimately understands human life—not from afar, or even just from the perspective of Creator, but because God entered history in the same way each one of us does, as a baby. I marvel at what that says about the character of our God—that of all the “incarnations” God could have picked, God chose to become a baby.
God didn’t skip over the processes of gestation, infancy, and childhood development. There is no point on the trajectory of the human lifespan that God has not experienced and understood. From birth to death, God claims solidarity with us, making each step sacred on the developmental journey. Our God is a God who joins us, and whose fullness was pleased to dwell among us, even in the messiness, danger, and fragility of an infant’s body.