“Search me, O God, and know my heart. Try me and know my anxieties. See if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” – Psalm 139:23-24
When the disciples asked Jesus why a certain man was born blind, he said, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned but that the works of God should be revealed in him” (John 9:3). I wish I could say the same of my acquaintances.
Two years ago, my pastor was diagnosed with a tumor behind his heart. Immediately I saw that he had a spiritual heart problem manifesting itself in a cancerous mass. Did my pastor see this and say, “Search me, O God”? Did he repent and pray for healing? No. My pastor underwent surgery instead. His tumor was removed, but his spiritual problem remains. Filled with pride, he still makes jokes in the pulpit at his wife’s expense.
Seven years ago, a friend was diagnosed with mouth and neck cancer. She underwent surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation and was declared cancer free. A few months ago, the cancer returned. Again, the situation was apropos. Although I like her posts on spiritual things, my friend is sometimes racist and judgmental. Did she see this and say, “Search me, O God”? Did she repent and pray for healing? No. My friend chose surgery instead. If anyone needed a tongue circumcision, she did. But it hasn’t fixed her spiritual problem. After her diagnosis, my friend started a Facebook prayer group for herself and loves to run her mouth in it. Once her medical ordeal is over, she plans to write a book! The mother of another friend wrote a book on her experience with breast cancer, but she also sought medical rather than divine help. After she died a few years ago, family and friends said she was finally “healed.” I disagree.
Spiritual problems always manifest themselves in the physical realm – bodies, families, nations, economies, etc. If people receive a bad medical diagnosis, then they must examine themselves. They weren’t born blind, deaf, or cancer-ridden. That happened later. Why? The answer is often sin. If people confess and repent of that sin, then they’ll be healed – without medical intervention like surgery or radiation. More people aren’t healed, both physically and spiritually, because they cowardly refuse to pray, “Search me, O God.” They also glory in self rather than God.
When we take the Lord’s Supper, we must “examine” ourselves (1 Corinthians 11:28). Those who don’t “drink judgment to themselves, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this reason many are sick and weak … and many sleep,” i.e. die (11:29-30). Paul’s summation is simple: “If we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged” (11:31). In other words, if we pray, “Search me, O God” and confess and repent of sin that the Holy Spirit shines a light on, then we won’t suffer divine judgment through disease and death. Yet even those judged “are chastened by the Lord that they may not be condemned with the world” (11:32). The purpose of this chastening is not to kill us but to make us holy (Hebrews 12:10-11). Like Job, our end should be better than our beginning, and even he repented (Job 42:6, 10-17). I know of only one person, diagnosed with stomach cancer, who sees his spiritual need and glories in God instead of himself. This elderly Asian man tells everyone he knows to repent. I pray that he is healed physically, for he has learned to pray, “Search me, O God.”
Few disease-ridden Christians have awakened to their spiritual need. Even fewer have confessed and repented of sin. They say they can see spiritually, but they’re really blind (John 9:39). These Christians run to doctors and take pills but refuse to examine themselves. Have we? If we want to avoid divine judgment, then we don’t have a choice.
 New King James Version (NKJV), unless otherwise noted