If a theologian is one who throws light on the nature of God, one of the most effective theologians I’ve ever met was a child who never spoke a word.

When Mandy was born, the first utterance by the attending physician was “uh-oh.” Then, “We need to measure that head.”

To me, the proud father, this baby daughter looked as normal as our previous two. But to a neonatologist’s well-calibrated eye, the head seemed small. And he was right. Instead of a normal 35-cm circumference, Mandy’s checked in at 31 cm.

We soon learned that Mandy’s condition was called microcephaly (small brain), and that it might cause some mental limitations. Over the next few months, we realized the severity of those limits. Mandy faced severe and profound retardation.

At first, we prayed that Mandy would develop some skills. But my wife, Susan, and I eventually had to accept the implications: Mandy would never talk, walk, sit up, or use her hands. She suffered frequent seizures. Cataracts had to be surgically removed from her eyes when she was three months old.

At a year-and-a-half, she lost her ability to swallow, so we learned to administer her medications and formula through a tube surgically implanted into her stomach. We never knew if she could see or hear. The only time we saw her respond to stimuli was when she occasionally would visibly relax in a warm bath.

Yet this child that some may have considered an “uh-oh,” a mistake, had an amazing ability to turn people’s thoughts to God and to instill lasting lessons about our heavenly Father:


Before I became a father myself, I assumed that parenting meant treating all your children the same. But identical treatment, I soon learned, is neither fair nor loving. ...

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