Happy Birthday to You! Celebrating a Wonder of God
There are holidays people observe that are based on events related to a nation’s history, such as the Fourth of July and Memorial Day. Other holidays, such as Christmas or Easter, are based on remembering religious historical events. But each of us has a peculiar holiday linked to our own person.
Birthdays are a personal “holiday,” so to speak. We feel that it is a special day, and even people who don’t know you very well will wish you a “Happy Birthday” and sometimes even go out of their way to do something nice for you.
Why are birthdays special? As we get older, we can sometimes feel birthdays aren’t as special or as important to celebrate. They just aren’t as exciting as when we were kids. While the Bible doesn’t command a celebration of birthdays, there are good reasons to continue to celebrate the birth of a person—and a birthday is a perfect time to do it.
Affirming the Value of a Person
In Genesis 1-3, God goes about creating a beautiful and good creation. His most celebrated creation is man. God forms humanity in a very personal way:
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them. (Gen. 1:26-27)
Man is given a special status as God’s image bearers. What does that mean? God is king over his creation, is holy and good (moral attributes), and a creator. In a similar way, man was made a king over creation and was supposed to rule over creation well (Gen. 1:28), be holy and good, and follow God’s word (Gen. 2:17). God has created every human with intrinsic value because they are made in his image. Whether someone is an infant, a teenager, or an octogenarian, human life is special and precious in God’s sight.
The life of man was so precious that the unjust taking of that life carried a severe punishment (Gen. 9:6). The psalmist, when faced with the marvels of creation, is amazed that God has created man in such a special way, with an elevated status (Ps. 8:4-6). People hold a special place in this world.
People—Blessings from God
One of the first commands God gave Adam and Eve as part of their image-bearing was to “be fruitful and multiply” (Gen. 1:28). Children were an important part of man’s initial purpose, not an afterthought. God created life, and Adam and Eve were given the privilege of creating new life.
In Scripture we hear about the wonderful blessing that children are and how God cares for them while they are still in the womb:
Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward. (Ps. 127:3)
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. (Ps. 139:13-14)
Grandchildren are the crown of the aged, and the glory of children is their fathers. (Prov. 17:6)
Human beings of all ages are wonders of God. Just as we are amazed by and recognize the glory and blessing of a stately mountain range or the awesomeness of a crashing ocean, we should join with the psalmist in praising God for human life. Birthdays are great opportunities to remind a person of the blessing he or she is and how they are a wonder of God.
A Time for Thankfulness
Birthdays are a fantastic time to contemplate more positive things. There is so much complaining, strife, and conflict that swirls around us. It is easy to be pulled down into focusing on troubles and trials and take people and things for granted. Birthdays provide an opportunity to thank God for the life of a person who is made in the image of the God of the universe and is an amazing creation.
It is important to remember that God is the one who should be the focus of a birthday. When we celebrate someone’s birth, we can remember that our Creator’s image is stamped upon this unique person, and we can thank God for his gift of their life.
Related Article: The Other in Your Life: Who This Is and How to Love Them
Recommended: Core Christianity: Finding Yourself in God's Story by Michael Horton