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Where a person is born, what family he or she is born into, one’s gender, appearance, and time of birth: these are the details of the first juncture of a person’s life.
No one has any choice about these parts in this juncture; they are all predestined long in advance by the Creator. They are not influenced by the external environment in any way, and no manmade factors can change these facts that the Creator has predetermined. For a person to be born means that the Creator has already fulfilled the first step of the fate He has arranged for that person. Because He has predetermined all of these details long in advance, no one has the power to alter any of them. Regardless of a person’s subsequent fate, the conditions of one’s birth are predestined, and remain as they are; they are not in any way influenced by one’s fate in life, nor do they in any way affect the Creator’s sovereignty over it.
Which details of the first juncture—the place of one’s birth, one’s family, one’s gender, one’s physical appearance, the time of one’s birth—is a person able to choose? Obviously, one’s birth is a passive event: One is born involuntarily, in a certain place, at a certain time, into a certain family, with a certain physical appearance; one involuntarily becomes a member of a certain household, inherits a certain family tree. One has no choice at this first life juncture, but is born into an environment that is fixed according to the Creator’s plans, into a specific family, with a specific gender and appearance, and at a specific time which is intimately linked with the course of a person’s life. What can a person do at this critical juncture? All told, one has no choice about any single one of these details concerning one’s birth. Were it not for the Creator’s predestination and His guidance, a life newly born into this world would not know where to go or where to stay, would have no relations, belong nowhere, have no real home. But because of the Creator’s meticulous arrangements, it begins the journey of its life with a place to stay, parents, a place it belongs to, and relatives. Throughout this process, the advent of this new life is determined by the Creator’s plans, and everything it will come to possess will be bestowed upon it by the Creator. From a free-floating body with nothing to its name it gradually becomes a flesh-and-blood, visible, tangible human being, one of God’s creations, who thinks, breathes, and senses warm and cold, who can participate in all the usual activities of a created being in the material world, and who will undergo all the things that a created human being must experience in life. The predetermination of a person’s birth by the Creator means that He will bestow upon that person all things necessary for survival; and that a person is born likewise means that he or she will receive all things necessary for survival from the Creator, that from that point on he or she will live in another form, provided for by the Creator and subject to the Creator’s sovereignty.
People often like to imagine that if they were reborn, it would be into an illustrious family; if they were women, they would look like Snow White and be loved by everybody, and if they were men, they would be Prince Charming, wanting for nothing, with the whole world at their beck and call. There are often those who are under many illusions about their birth and are often very dissatisfied with it, resenting their family, their appearance, their gender, even the time of their birth. Yet people never understand why they are born into a particular family or why they look a certain way. They do not know that regardless of where they are born or how they look, they are to play various roles and fulfill different missions in the Creator’s management—this purpose will never change. In the Creator’s eyes, the place one is born, one’s gender, one’s physical appearance, are all temporary things. They are a series of minuscule jots, tiny symbols in each phase of His management of the whole mankind. And a person’s real destination and ending are not determined by his or her birth in any particular phase, but by the mission that he or she fulfills in every life, by the Creator’s judgment upon them when His management plan is complete.
It is said that there is a cause for every effect, that no effect is without a cause. And so one’s birth is necessarily tied both to one’s present life and one’s previous life. If a person’s death ends their current term of life, then a person’s birth is the beginning of a fresh cycle; if an old cycle represents a person’s previous life, then the new cycle is naturally their present life. Since one’s birth is connected to one’s past life as well as one’s present life, the location, family, gender, appearance, and other such factors, which are associated with one’s birth, are all necessarily related to them. This means that the factors of a person’s birth are not only influenced by one’s previous life, but determined by one’s destiny in the present one. This accounts for the variety of different circumstances into which people are born: Some are born into poor families, others into rich families. Some are of common stock, others have illustrious lineages. Some are born in the south, others in the north. Some are born in the desert, others in verdant lands. Some people’s births are accompanied by cheers, laughter, and celebrations, others bring tears, calamity, and woe. Some are born to be treasured, others to be cast aside like weeds. Some are born with fine features, others with crooked ones. Some are lovely to look upon, others are ugly. Some are born at midnight, others beneath the blaze of the noonday sun. … The births of people of all stripes are determined by the fates the Creator has in store for them; their births determine their fates in the present life as well as the roles they will play and the missions they will fulfill. All this is subject to the Creator’s sovereignty, predestined by Him; no one can escape their predestined lot, no one can change the circumstances of[a] their birth, and no one can choose their own fate.
from “God Himself, the Unique III” in The Word Appears in the Flesh