Joe's Table: A Place Where Disabilities Become Gifts

Day 1 of 5 • This day’s reading


“Your child is potentially autistic.” It was 1984. I didn’t have a clue what kind of illness it was. I had no words. In ignorance, I simply thought if it were an illness, it could be treated immediately. “Will brain surgery remove it?” I was bewildered when the doctor told me there was no surgery for it. “Right now there is no way to treat him.” I found the doctor’s words preposterous. Why has my son Joseph developed this disease in the first place? How is it possible that there are still incurable diseases? 

Questions raced through my mind. I ran to God with this impossible problem. God who made me, God who made Joseph. Oh God! Aren’t you the Creator? Why did you make Joseph like this and send him to me? I had never thought about Joseph like this before. To me, Joseph’s face had shone brighter than any precious jewel. Now I saw a dark cloud above his face. 

Around this time, my mother had come to America to help during my postpartum period. Once she learned about Joseph’s condition, it broke her heart to see me hitting the lowest point of my life Carrying Joseph on her back, she would walk around our garden more than ten times a day singing Psalm Twenty-Three: “While the Lord is my Shepherd, I’m kept in His care, like a lamb, dear and precious in His sight, By the soft, flowing waters and the grass growing there I find pasture and shelter day and night. Yes, the Lord is my good Shepherd I the lamb within His care! He still leads me and feeds me where the green pastures grow, and I lack nothing, ever anywhere!”

These songs were about how greatly they needed God. These very songs became Joseph’s lullabies. “I hear Thy welcome voice that calls me, Lord, to thee For cleansing in Thy precious blood that flowed on Calvary, I am coming, Lord. Coming now to Thee: Wash me, cleanse me, in the blood that flowed on Calvary.” When I heard her singing, I couldn’t help but cry, not because I was inspired emotionally or touched spiritually. I cried because I couldn’t understand how she could praise God under these circumstances. I felt totally empty. I tried to find any trace of good in my life—to sing for joy—but I couldn’t. My mother continued singing her praises, “God is so good, God is so good ...” I longed to feel whatever motivated her to sing a thousand times over to baby Joseph. To feel hope. 

Lord, help me remember you have a plan for everything. You are with me in my struggles, you know what I am going through, and you will never leave me. Help me learn to lean fully on you. I praise you for being with me in everything. Amen.