"And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him" (Acts 17:26-27).
Yesterday this verse spoke to me on the issue of why we didn't have better childhoods: God's greatest desire for us is not that we be happy in childhood but that we be saved. The Lord is "not willing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance" (2 Peter 3:9). And so, deprivations and pain and even abuse in childhood may serve His greater end for our lives. The sufferings of childhood are not worth comparing to the glory and joy that will be ours hereafter.
But there is another great truth in Paul's words to the philosophers in Athens: God has placed each one of us in just exactly the time and the place in history that He picked for us, for a kingdom reason. You could have been born a hundred years ago (and some of you might wish you had, so that you could have avoided computers and Twitter!), but that was not the right time for you. You could have been born in Louis XIV's France, but that was not the right place for you, either.
The time and place God wanted you to be born was exactly when and where you were born. To believe and understand that is to be filled with a sense of urgency for getting up out of bed in the morning. You are not here to mark time. If you do not do the thing God had you born to do-"good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them" (Ephesians 2:10)-then you have missed something much bigger than just "your potential," in a human sense.
Queen Esther was a pretty young woman living in Persia in the fifth century B.C., and that is all she would have been if she had not risen to the occasion and offered her life as a living sacrifice for her people. Her uncle Mordecai soberly laid out the stakes:
"For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father's house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?" (Esther 4:14)