You are one-of-a-kind. You are valuable and infinitely rare. Before or after you, there will never be anyone just like you. In fact a researcher, Ali Binazir, once attempted to work out just how rare you are. He figured that the chances of precisely you being born, out of all the possibilities throughout all generations, is about 1 in 102,640,000. That’s a VERY small chance. To put that into perspective, scientists believe there are 1050 atoms on planet earth and 1080 atoms in the whole universe. So the chances of you being here is like randomly picking out one atom from the whole universe, millions of times in a row. It is so unlikely that you should be here, it’s truly mind-boggling.
To think about our existence from this perspective is a beautiful change of focus. Too often we’re made to think that our lives are somehow incidental to the world around us. From a young age we’re subtly shown how we don’t match up to another person or standard. It’s a damaging message that people can carry with them throughout their lives. I recently spoke to a young person who had come to believe that she was not valuable. She had come to think that her life was a flippant glitch in some cosmic plan. As I heard her describe her story my heart broke. Where along the way had she picked up such a lie? How could this infinitely rare and valuable person come to devalue themselves like this?
Being reminded of our value is not an act of vanity or inflated ego. In fact, those who do not know their worth have to prop themselves up by putting others down, pretending and covering up who they really are. Getting to the heart of our one-of-a-kindness is actually a transformative discovery that makes us approach our whole lives with humility, kindness, and hope. To tell a young person that they matter, and showing them why, can change the course of their whole life. Those who experience their true value come to see, bit by bit, that those around them may be just as amazingly rare.
But the story of our value does not end here. We are more than just a unique numerical impossibility. We are also beloved, delighted in, celebrated, accepted, embraced, enjoyed and comforted. Our value is made personal by a God who intimately knows us and holds our lives in his hands. The depth of God’s love for us is so profound that it takes our rarity and layers on purpose, relationship, and meaning. Knowing that we are unique is staggering, but knowing we are also loved is breathtaking. This is truly Good News.
This is the time of the year when we once again step into the Christmas story. It is the story of God who came to us. When I hear this story through the carols and in the midst of the tinsel and greeting cards, I begin to see that there is more at work here. I see the story of God who came to show love to a world that has come to believe that they are not valuable. To Mary and Joseph, to the Shepherds and Wise Men, to you and to me, Jesus came to show the whole world that we more than matter. He came to show us that we are loved.
This Christmas, may you see yourself and your neighbour as God sees you. May you be reminded that you are infinitely valuable and infinitely loved by a God who has never once seen you in any other way.