An Honest Diagnosis

An Honest Diagnosis

The Lord said to Samuel: “See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears about it tingle.  At that time I will carry out against Eli everything I spoke against his family—from beginning to end.  For I told him that I would judge his family forever because of the sin he knew about; his sons blasphemed God, and he failed to restrain them. (1 Samuel 3:10–13)

A sickly man stumbles into the ER, breathing heavily, each step leaden.  He is rushed immediately to see the doctor; the nurse who accompanies him looks worried.  Ten minutes later, the man is standing outside the entrance to the hospital, a clean bill of health in his hand.

Two days later, he is dead.

There is an inquiry into the situation.  Why did the doctor discharge a man with one foot in the grave?  Investigators are shocked by the doctor’s heartless response:  “I knew he was deathly sick, but I didn’t want him to worry, so I said nothing.”

The prophet Samuel was still a child when God spoke to him the first time.  The Lord gave this youngster a message of judgment, and he expected Samuel to share it.  Samuel had to warn Eli the priest that he and his sons were headed toward spiritual ruin.  They needed immediate heart surgery.  If Samuel said nothing, the patients would die horrific deaths.

By God’s grace, this boy relayed the difficult prognosis.

Your pastor has a difficult job.  Like a doctor, he is obliged to give you bad news sometimes.  Like Samuel, he listens to God’s Word regularly so he can warn you about the spiritual dangers in your life.  That puts him in a difficult position.  The more he preaches the painful diagnosis, the less inclined people might be to support him.

However, no one would ever pay a doctor to lie to them.  So, support your pastor, even when he says hard things.  He’s definitely not perfect; he may occasionally say something incorrectly;  he will sometimes offer a diagnosis without a gentle enough bedside manner or have difficultly expressing it confidently; but he’s doing it because you can’t get better unless you know what’s wrong.

Even more, he’s doing it so he can give you the life-changing medicine of the gospel, the cure we all truly need.

Prayer:  Lord, help me humbly accept the diagnosis of my pastor, but even more, heal me daily with your gospel medicine.  Amen.