by Dorette Saunders
God often uses ordinary people and ordinary things to teach us lessons about his extraordinary power. The account of Naaman, the Syrian commander’s healing of leprosy (2 Kings 5:1-15), is a case in point.
Namaan’s wife had a young Jewish girl working for her. This servant girl was not an immigrant who had crossed the border looking for work, or food. Rather, “one day while the Syrian troops were raiding Israel, they captured” her (v.2, CEV).
She had been forcibly taken away from her homeland, and all that she knew and loved. Despite this, she had not left her faith in God behind. And now, perhaps in the context of her enslavement, this young woman had grown close to her mistress. Knowing of the commander’s leprous condition, she said to his wife, “If your husband Naaman would go to the prophet in Samaria, he would be cured of his leprosy” (v.3).
Can you hear the devil buzzing around, sneering at her? Why would you want to help them? They dragged you from your country and made you a slave. What if it doesn’t work? Naaman would be embarrassed and the consequences to you would be harsh.
Notice the faith of this young woman. She was no healer, but she knew that God would work through his prophet. The healing would depend on Naaman’s obedience: if he would go…he would be cured.
Do we have such confidence in God’s ability to act in dire situations? Do we voice them? This was an ordinary servant girl telling the wife of a mighty military man what her God could do. We read in the Scriptures that God uses the weak things to astound the strong (1 Corinthians 1:27).
Perhaps this military leper had tried many cures that had failed. So entertaining a glimmer of hope, Naaman heeded the advice and went to Israel. As the narrative unfolds, he stops at the prophet Elisha’s dwelling in anticipation of the prophet performing a healing ritual on him. After all, he had taken along “30,000 pieces of silver, 6,000 pieces of gold, and 10 new outfits” (2 Kings 5:5, CEV) in gifts to broker this deal.
But Naaman quickly learned that healing is not for sale. And God is not a deal-maker. Nor does God deal in quid pro quo, nor should his prophets. In fact, Elisha does not come out to meet the commander nor does he accept any of the gifts. Instead, he sends someone to tell Naaman to dip in the River Jordan seven times to receive his healing!
Suddenly Naaman’s expectations crashed. The Jordan River? That ordinary river? Why, Syria had much cleaner waters, he could have saved himself the trip, and the fanfare, and washed himself back there. Enraged, Naaman was ready to go back home, but his servants, ordinary people, endowed with wisdom not normally attributed to people of their station in life, pleaded with him:
“Sir, if the prophet had told you to do something difficult, you would have done it. So why don't you do what he said? Go wash and be cured” (v. 13).
Aren’t we sometimes guilty of putting God in a box? Of expecting things to work the way that makes sense for us? Don’t we often sabotage the blessings and healings that are destined for our lives by our own stubbornness? By our own faulty expectations?
In contrast, do you see the confidence that these ordinary servants display? Go wash and be cured.
And yes, when Naaman cast away his pride, humbled himself and obeyed, his skin was cleansed like that of a young child.
God uses people we would least expect to intervene in our situations. To counsel us, to pray over us, to speak words of comfort or healing, to point us to God, with whom all things are possible.
It was a profound lesson for Naaman, and one for us as well. There is one God, the God of Israel, and besides him there is no other.
PRAYER: Lord God, humble me that I may see with fresh eyes that which you would have me see. Teach me, Lord, that you are not limited in power, but that your arm of mercy stretches far beyond what I can hope or imagine. Help me to know that you are God, and besides you, there is no other. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.