One of my great joys as an associate pastor of youth and families is to share biblical truth with teenagers in hopes they allow Scripture to shape their lives. At the same time, I recognize I have not gone through everything that some of the youth I minister to have. One area is with illness, specifically long-term and chronic illness. In such a case, I look for resources to encourage and equip youth and their families with. That is why I am grateful for He’s Making Diamonds: A Teen’s Thoughts on Faith Through Chronic Illness by teenage author Sara Willoughby.
For Teenagers Facing Long-Term Illness
Sara is a sixteen-year-old who has faced the challenges of Lyme disease, toxic black mold poisoning, and multiple chemical sensitivity since she was fourteen. As she has struggled with her chronic illness, God has shaped her and shown her how He is using her life for His glory. While she admits she is not one who has all the answers, God has placed it on her heart to share what He has taught her with other teenagers who are dealing with a long-term illness. She wants teenagers who are sick to know they are not alone. God is there for them to redeem in the midst of their battle. Sara is there for them to relate in the battle.
As Sara relates her story, she points the reader to the God who redeems. She opens the book (chapter 1) by asking the question of where God is in the midst of suffering and what He is doing. She reminds those ill that as changes in their life may occur, their identity does not rest in those circumstances but in an unchanging God (chapter 2). Sara reflects on her struggles and addresses facing despair and fighting for joy (chapter 3), longing to be a “normal” teenager (chapter 6), and realizing hope and disappointments (chapter 7). She equips teenagers in communication and relationships with siblings, parents, and God (chapters 4–5). She also encourages teenagers with chronic illnesses to find rest (chapter 8) and peace (chapter 9) in the midst of the storm. She devotes the last portion of the book to encourage teenagers to depend upon God and trust in Him while facing chronic and long-term illness (chapters 10–12). After all, God is making diamonds out of this (chapter 13).
An Honest and Hopeful Book
Miss Willoughby’s personal and practical approach shows He’s Making Diamonds to be an honest and hopeful book. Sara does not shy away from asking the hard questions of where God is and what He is doing, and she is the first to admit she does not have all the answers. At the same time, she knows others are asking the same questions. She wants these teenagers with long-term illnesses to know it is okay to ask questions as they struggle in the faith. The important thing is to bring these questions to God. That is where this book becomes not only honest but hopeful. As Sara struggles through what she is facing, she reminds herself who God says He is and what He has done. The many Scripture references throughout the book bring a biblical perspective to her life and the reader’s. She shows the reader this perspective through her own personal stories and by practical assignments she gives the reader.
One of the most complicated aspects of addressing chronic illness is how to understand the mental challenges faced. Both chapters 4 and 9 admit the difficulty in understanding the mental aspect of illness, particularly how it relates to its influence on sin. While these sections provide much to mull over, Sara encourages the reader to take responsibility for what they can and grow in self-control where they can.
For Teenagers and Those Who Care For Them
In He’s Making Diamonds, we hear how God is redeeming Sara’s story of chronic illness and shaping her for His glory. As Sara shares her thoughts on faith through chronic illness, we see her relate to other teenagers who are facing the same trials. If you want to hear a testimony of a teenager who God is using to shape for His glory as they share their story, grab a copy of this book. If you are a teenager facing a long-term or chronic illness or you care for a teenager who is, you especially need to get this book. Let this book lead you to be honest and find your hope in God as He shapes you for His glory!
I received a digital copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.
If you are interested in purchasing a copy of He’s Making Diamonds, click here.