COVID may have robbed my brother of his physical strength,
but it did not have the power to weaken him spiritually.
I thought if I could just make it to 2021 things would get better. And they did. January brought with it the news that Utah had started vaccinating its healthcare workers. But things also got worse. I received the news that my older brother had been hospitalized.
I was sitting in my car in the parking lot about to enter Costco when I answered the call from South Africa. My mom informed me that my older brother had contracted the new South African strain of COVID and had to be hospitalized because he was struggling to breathe.
When I ended the phone call, I just sat there in my car, stunned. The tears rolled down my cheeks as I tried to take it all in.
But he's only 2 years older than me.
He doesn't even have a high risk medical condition. He's always been the strong one, the athletic one.
He has a son who is supposed to go on a mission in a few weeks. . .
In that moment it became crystal clear to me about what really matters. People and family are everything. Money and goods are nothing. All we have is each other. Nothing else matters.
My brother's condition got worse before it got better. Significantly worse, He developed pneumonia and blood clots, and was put on 95% oxygen. At one point, it looked like he might not make it.
I've read about how isolating COVID is and how people are dying alone in hospitals, separated from their friends and family. The reality of this isolation didn't hit me until it happened to someone I love.
I remembered how important it was for me to be at my baby's bedside when he was in the NICU. I couldn't even begin to imagine my sister-in-law's agony as she was unable to visit her husband. And I thought of my brother all alone, day after day, night after night.
Then I received a strong and clear impression that my brother wasn't alone. There were angels with him.
I immediately knew this to be true.
I'd had my own witness of this truth when I experienced serious medical trauma.
Having received this impression, I then prayed specifically that my brother would be watched over by angels--deceased family members who are now on the other side of the veil. I thought of my departed grandfather, Oupie, who was strong in both body and spirit, and imagined him standing over my brother.
I prayed with all of my faith that my brother would be healed, knowing that in the end God's will would prevail. I reminded myself that God had a plan for my brother's life and that this was a plan of happiness. And even though my brother was suffering, Heavenly Father could "make all things work together for his good"(Romans 8:28). Most of all I clung to the truth that "with God all things are possible" (Matt. 19:26).
My prayers were answered. My brother was watched over by angels, from both sides of the veil. The angels on this side of the veil worked 12 hour shifts, wore blue protective clothing and suffered from the heat generated by these protective layers. After being in their care for 16 days my brother was able to come home. And 8 days after that, my nephew left for his mission.
While COVID may have robbed my brother of his physical strength, it did not have the power to weaken him spiritually. Having passed through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, he came through on the other side with a bright, unshakable knowledge of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ--their love for us and their power to heal and save us.
I was deeply touched by a text I received from him. In it he expressed his gratitude for being blessed with the miracle of physical healing and for receiving a second chance to live. He also testified of being blessed with spiritual healing. He reported having received a powerful and peaceful assurance that his sins had been forgiven him, after wrestling with the Lord in prayer for many hours. Overwhelmed by the power of the Savior's love for him, he then committed to spend the rest of his days cherishing his wife and serving to build up the kingdom of God.
I can't help but think of the promise made in Isaiah 40:31. "But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary; and they shall walk and not faint."
It was Oupie who first introduced me to this scripture and I have loved it ever since.
Today it is the prayer for my brother's continued healing.
(This post has been written with my brother's permission)