Entrusted By God is passionate about equipping everyday people, including young people, to live as faithful stewards in an entitled culture. One area of life where this truth is extremely pertinent is the trials and hardships of life. To that end, this post is the second in a two-part series, featuring excerpts from teenager S.G. Willoughby’s book He’s Making Diamonds: A Teen’s Thoughts on Faith Through Chronic Illness, a helpful and hopeful book about faith in the midst of health battles by a teenager who deals with chronic illness. This work which features a foreword by the lead vocalist and lead guitarist of Hawk Nelson, Jon Steingard.
If we are “good” people or Christians, don’t we deserve to be healthy? Is it our “right” to be healthy?
The answer is an unpleasant no. Humans are flawed and sinful. None of us can do anything at all to deserve God’s mercy and grace. We don’t deserve to be healthy. In fact, we deserve just the opposite.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8–9)
Paul was the one who wrote that. If anyone could earn God’s grace, it would seem to be him. He was not just a normal Jew; he was a Pharisee. He himself declares:
For it is we who are the circumcision, we who serve God by his Spirit, who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh—though I myself have reasons for such confidence. If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless. (Philippians 3:3–6)
That’s not all of it, though! Once he became a Christian, he was one of the apostles. He even wrote much of the New Testament! No one doubts his faith. And yet, he was given a thorn in his side (see 2 Corinthians 12:7). He was allowed to suffer immensely, as he describes in 2 Corinthians 11:21–30:
To my shame I admit that we were too weak for that! Whatever anyone else dares to boast about—I am speaking as a fool—I also dare to boast about. Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they Abraham’s descendants? So am I. Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn? If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.
So, do we deserve health? Do we deserve a perfect life because we are “good people” and Christians? Nope.
But . . . Why?
“Okay,” you say. “I get it. God did not promise us a life of ease. He promised us trouble. But why? If He loves us, why in the world would He allow us to go through this?”
Well, believe it or not, I finally came to this conclusion and realization sometime in the middle of months in bed, in pain, without answers: “This, too, is an expression of Your love, God.” Those were the words I wrote in my journal.
This trial, anything and everything you are facing, is an expression of God’s love for you and for me. I know. How can that be? It doesn’t make much logical sense. At least, not at first glance. But God gives us these things as gifts. He gives us what He knows we are strong enough, in Him, to handle. He gives us only what will grow us, grow our faith, and prepare us for the plans He has for us in the future!
About S.G. Willoughby
S. G. Willoughby is a seventeen-year-old girl with Lyme disease, toxic mold poisoning, and MCS. Currently, she resides in Arizona with her parents and two siblings. In her spare time she loves to write, read, and have adventures. She writes at FoundWhoIAm, R535, and Th!nk Magazine.