Seventeen-year-old Samaritan member S.G. (Sara) Willoughby writes about how God uses difficult circumstances to make us into something beautiful in her book He’s Making Diamonds: A Teen’s Thoughts on Faith Through Chronic Illness.
She sums up the message that compelled her to write the book: “The tough times and the times that oppress us most are shaping us into what God wants us to be, even though we don’t like it sometimes, … God has a plan for us in the end.”
Sara is a 17-year-old girl suffering from Lyme disease, toxic mold poisoning, and multiple chemical sensitivity.
Throughout the book, Willoughby talks about how she deals with the spiritual and psychological offshoots of her illnesses, such as depression, anxiety, asking God why, and adjusting to living with the illness. She also offers tips on how to show caretakers that you love them and appreciate what they’ve done and continue to do for you. She urges those dealing with long-term illness not to give up hope, even though sometimes it seems pretty dark when healing doesn’t come right away.
The author also touches on how to deal with:
- Frequent questions from others about your condition, and how to handle that on bad days.
- How not to feel guilty about resting when you need to.
- And when to know if you’re being lazy or just tired and really in need of rest.
God doesn’t always heal the sick right away. Sara talks about finding joy even in the pain and trials of living with a long-term illness.
Friendships and relationships in general are hard if you’ve got a persistent illness, but there are other people struggling with illness out there—you just have to find them. It might not be in your community or neighborhood—it might be in a Facebook group, through a blog or on Instagram—but they’re out there. They can offer advice on how to deal with specific situations or issues if they have a similar illness, and they can sympathize with you in a way healthy people sometimes aren’t able to, offering support and love on your worst days.
She also writes about how her life is different now. She can’t go out and be a normal teenager, but she’s learned to be thankful for the small things, for what she can still do, and for the things she’s finding out that she can do now. She’s also grateful for her family as they support and take care of her.
Sara encourages readers not to let their faith flag despite the hardships they face and the fact that they may blame God for their illness and believe that He has abandoned them. He hasn’t, she writes. Even when life seems black, He’s still caring for us.
Her intense strength is evident, despite times of denial and anger at the beginning of her illness as she came to terms with it. She shows how to stay strong despite the temptation to just give in and throw a pity party, and how to keep moving even when it takes monumental effort to just wake up in the morning.
Throughout the book, Sara writes about how her faith, her family, and her friends have been there for her, how God has been there for her, and the fact that He doesn’t send anything our way that we can’t handle.
He’s shaping us into diamonds, chipping away the flaws and making us sparkle in the end, even though we don’t like how we get there sometimes.
Samaritan member Abigail Miller blogs at readingbyfairylight.wordpress.com.