ISAIAH 40:31 : But they that wait upon the lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run,and not be weary; and they shall walk and not be faint.

Back in October 2008 I was fully fit and healthy, in fact on the weekend before the start of the month I had joined members of my church in visiting a local park. I had played sports with the other men of the church. Playing games such as football and cricket, I had run around all afternoon and enjoyed the time with them. In my work I was alway's lifting and carrying items I delivered to hotels, carrying them upstairs and dragging items back out the same way. I always joked that it was a waste of money me being a member of a gym as after a day's work I had exerted such physical effort that I did not need to exercise any further.


A week into October of 2008 I was under the weather and battled to the end of a week at work, I felt that a restful weekedend would do wonders for me.  But by the Sunday I was not any better and did not go to church as I battled with a stomach bug, again by Monday I was no better and I rang my boss to tell him I would not be in and was taking myself to the doctors, the doctor gave me some pills to take which by the end of the Tuesday had cleared up the stomach bug. I duly rang my boss to tell him I would be back in work the next day, that Wednesday I got the impression that I had come back to work a day too early, but that was my nature I never believed in taking time off, I had to be really poorly to be off work! Later that day things got worse, I was now tripping up over my left foot but I still felt that all I needed was a good nights sleep, but the next morning it was worse as now my whole left leg was dead, I could just about walk on it although I found it really difficult. So off to the doctors I went again, Their was a look of suprise on my doctors face and concern that I was struggling so much, surprise that he was seeing me again, he was not used to seeing me twice in a year let alone twice in one week. My doctor was so concerned that he told me he wanted me to go straight to hospital, little did I know that I was about to spend 12 months in hospital.


Over the next three days my condition continued to deteriorate and by the Saturday afternoon I was completely paralysed from the neck down, every bodily function was gone all I could do was move my head and communicate. That night I was moved to a specialized hospital that could treat my suspected condition and on arrival I had various tests performed, at the time I was transferred members of my church had met and been praying for that very move. In the middle of the night the doctor came to see me to tell me that the tests had confirmed their suspicions and I was suffering from Guillain-barre syndrome. This condition was very rare and affects about only 1 in a 100,000 people a year, it is a disease of the peripheral nervous system and basically attacks the peripheral nervous system of your body and although their is no known cause with this condition it is usually preceeded by a virus.


One area of the body it affects is the diaphragm and it affected mine quite severely leaving me needing a short spell on intensive care to be given oxygen. At that time my sister in law had been praying for me and she asked God if he had a verse for her, she opened her Good nNews bible where the ribbon was  hoping to find words of comfort, JOB 17:1 . The end of my life is near, I can barely breath; there is nothing left for me but the grave. these words brought her to tears so she prayed again asking God for something more encouraging, she opened her bible and needed to read no further, the heading told her all she needed to know: JESUS HEALS A PARALYSED MAN; MATTHEW 9 .


She felt that God was showing her two things, one was the problem in Job but in Matthew the answer, the answer being Jesus. Both pieces of scripture were so fitting to my predicament it completely amazed me when she shared them with me in a letter some months later. I spent only three days on the intensive care ward, something that is a small miracle in itself, so many people were praying for me the night I was taken up to the Intensive care ward. My consultant came to see me and was delighted that my breathing seemed to have stabilised enough for me to be sent back to the ward I had come from, In fact he seemed genuinely suprised how well I was doing and told me that most guillain-barre sufferers end up being ventilated once they reach the level of difficulty I had with breathing, I personally only had one answer it was God, all the continuing prayer that was going on was what saved me at that moment and I praise god for that.


I was soon back on the ward I had come from and the doctors and nurses welcomed me back telling me how worried they had all been when I was sent up to intensive care, Gods love just continued to rain down upon me. Back at home my family were being looked after so well by everybody in the church, People were just pouring out their love on my family and at times their gracious love and kindness overwhelmed me to the point where I would lie there in my hospital bed and just cry! Over the next few weeks my body showed enough recovery that my doctor felt I was doing well enough to be moved to a rehabilitation ward, which meant getting used to new nurses and a new doctor as well as new room mates on the ward! On that ward I met John a fellow guillain-barre sufferer who had spent seven months in intensive care and was very unlikely now to fully recover, It really brought it home to me just how close to death I had been and how much God had intervened and carried me through!


I only spent two weeks on that ward before my doctor told me that a place at a specialised rehabilitation hospital was  available for me, this was nearer to my home and so at the end of November I moved again. I spent the next ten months at this hospital working as hard as my body would allow! Many days ended in frustration as my body seemed to refuse to co-operate but slowly I regained the use of my arms and was able to write again and wheel myself around in a wheelchair. One thing that was central to me was to be able to play guitar again as the lord had laid so many songs in my heart that I felt he was calling me to write and perform and so I toiled away at regaining the ability to play again and sing and God has duly delivered, although I now have to improvise far more as some chords my fingers just won't stretch to!


My legs have some recovery in them but also still some severe weakness and nerve damage to this day, I am able to walk very short distances with the help of walking aids but muscle fatigue is always a problem.


However I just trust God with everything and know that he has a plan for me and that he has not yet finished with healing my body. One peice of scripture that I often look to is Genesis 50:20 , You intended harm to me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is being now being done, the saving of many lives! The enemy intended what happened to me to harm me, but God intended it for good! Our God is so amazing, I have  written  a  book  about my journey with God through illness called Faith Through The Storm. My hope is that through this book if you are suffering in any way in your life, I hope that you will be able to draw strength from it spiritualy or physicaly and know that God is with you always. For me I had a real (Job) like experience but God has seen me through at every stage of my walk, 

God bless, Jez Smith.