Yesterday morning, I was wide awake at about 5am, after only about 3-4 hours sleep, because God called upon me to pray for my brother. I remember coming to in complete darkness, my arms and legs aching with discomfort from snoozing on the floor in a sleeping bag, and it was a while before I registered the faint trill issuing from nearby. I realised in due course that it was my phone, signalling that my battery was incredibly low. I had switched it on earlier in the day, but had forgotten to turn it off again and preserve the waning battery life.
I reached for my handbag where my phone was stashed, in order to switch it off so that the regular beeping did not continue to disturb me, something that has happened before. However, I had time to read the two messages I had received, one of which was from my mother. It was a brief overview of my brother's current condition - he has been extremely poorly this last year, but has been stable, mostly, for sometime now.
After suffering from acute back and leg pains last October, the hospital picked up that he had DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis) in his leg, a potentially life-threatening condition if left undetected for too long, and this eventually led to a diagnosis of Crohn's disease. This is the inflammation of the bowel, and that is just about all I can tell you of it without referring to either Wikipedia, or the perhaps more accurate NHS website.
It is not fully curable, but can be stabilised with medication. During the last nine months, my brother's consultants have been experimenting with both the form and level of his medication, the only way in which they can work out the correct dosage for him. Ever since May he has been stable, and was able to begin picking up his life again.
Anyway, the text I received during the early hours of the morning insinuated that his health had gone downhill a little, and consequently his medication was altered and he received an iron infusion. I understood that he wasn't nearly as unwell as he has been, but remained uncertain of his level of health.
Unable to return to sleep once more, I felt compelled to pray for him, which I did for some time, in order to fulfill the special task that God had assigned to me. And when I couldn't sleep after that, I felt the urge to switch the light on and read my Bible, while outside it was growing light, a new dawn visible through the curtains at the other end of the room. I read a considerable chunk of the new testament, focusing on the latter books of James, John and Jude, and I felt wonderfully relaxed, realising that God was in control because I had trusted him, placing my brother's situation in his care.
I did fall asleep again eventually, which is good because I think my energy would have waned considerably during the day. In the evening I rang home out of the blue, and my parents were thrilled by the surprise phone call. Having not seen them in almost three weeks, it was so good to hear their voices again! I found out that my brother wasn't all that ill after all. He still wasn't himself, but he was able to play football yesterday, a very good sign indeed! His only symptom today was a headache. Hopefully, he will continue to improve on this new medication, and there will be no further complications. We'll see, but I know that God is with us through it all, whatever happens.
I'm excited about seeing my parents and brothers again when I return home in under a week, but this will come with another parting. I will have to leave Spud behind for another six weeks or so until I see him again (it's his turn to travel the 300 miles to mine this time, and he has a visit planned for November). I'm really going to miss him, so I'd better make the most of my time with him!