06 Aug Divine Healing
The story of the healing of Naaman is one of those Old Testament dramas that would make a great stage play. There is an A-list cast of characters, gut-rending emotion, surprising heroics from those in supporting roles, and a dramatic conclusion. But, it almost ends very differently.
Naaman is a highly successful, decorated military general. He also has a severe skin disease. It’s called “leprosy” in the biblical text, but that term covered a wide variety of skin maladies, so we can’t be sure what his exact condition entailed. Nevertheless, he was desperate to be cured. A household servant points him in the direction of a Jewish prophet named Elisha. What’s significant about this is that Naaman was an army commander for Aram, an enemy of Israel’s, an enemy with whom Israel had already had a number of skirmishes.
Armed with a letter of introduction from Aram’s king, Naaman does make the trip to seek out the purported miracle worker. Some high level political intrigue caused by a miscommunication adds to the drama, but eventually Naaman arrives at Elisha’s house. Elisha dispatches a messenger to go outside with Naaman’s instructions: go to the Jordan River and wash seven times, sort of the ancient equivalent of “take two aspirin and call me in the morning.”
Naaman is incensed. How dare this prophet send a messenger to greet him! And where’s the shouting and arm waving and spectacular show of miraculous power? Aram has rivers mightier than the Jordan! You can almost hear him saying, “Well, I never!”
Naaman turns on his heels and is ready to ride off in a cloud of dust when another lowly servant intervenes. The gist of his argument goes something like this: “You’ve come so far and you’re so close. If the prophet had told you to do something difficult, you would have done it at once. Just because it seems anticlimactic to wash in the prophet’s river, it still might work. What have you got to lose?”
To his credit, Naaman allows humility to win over his pride and arrogance. He heeds his servant’s advice and he follows Elisha’s instructions. As a result, he is not only healed, he is made better than new, with skin “as that of a young boy.”
Naaman came very close to missing the healing he so desperately wanted—and all because of unmet expectations. He expected a cure, but he expected it a certain way. He expected something dramatic. He expected Elisha to cater to him. He expected to be treated with the deference and respect befitting his position. Instead, the words he needed came through lowly servants and messengers. The necessary actions required humility.
It is often not so very different with us. God is always working in our lives to lead us to healing and wholeness—but we frequently don’t like God’s methods or means of delivery. We miss the gifts that are right in front of us because we are looking for something else. We have expectations of what we need or what we “deserve” which lead us to a never-ending cycle of disappointment and discontent. Today, try something different: be grateful. Express your thanks and gratitude for all the people in your life who are an instrument of growth or grace—especially the ones you are most tempted to overlook.
Yours for the Kingdom,