Naaman’s head must fill with expectations as he approaches the prophet Elisha’s house. Finally, he can be cured, he hopes. We imagine that Naaman has dreamt of this day for so long. So long that he knows what his cheers of “I’m healed! I’m healed!” will sound like all the way back to Aram. He might remember what his wife’s touch will feel like again. He may think of what the gazes of strangers will be without his outcast status. He knows. And he cannot wait for it!
But then healing does not come as Naaman has imagined. Naaman has envisioned that Elisha would come out to him, pray to God, and heal him on the spot. Instead Elisha tells Naaman to go to the Jordan River and wash himself seven times. This requires Naaman to do just one more thing. In hearing such news, Naaman is angry and disappointed. He fires back to Elisha questioning his judgment. Why did he have to come to Israel’s river? Aren’t there acceptable rivers back at home? Naaman feels overwhelmed by the dissonance between what he wants and reality. So, Naaman almost misses his chance for healing. If not for a servant’s encouragement to heed Elisha’s instructions, Naaman would have missed his cure from leprosy.
How often do we, like Naaman, miss out on an experience of God because we’re upset life is not unfolding as we imagined it? We balk at the instructions offered to us through wise counsel. If it’s not our idea first, we don’t want to try it. Yet, the story of Naaman encourages us to consider how God’s guidance for our lives appears differently than we would have expected. Our job is to listen and to obey when the instructions come.
God, clear our minds of ideas or plans that are not the ones you have for us. Give us courage this day to be willing to receive whatever it is you want to give us. Amen.
The readings from the Hebrew scriptures describe what can happen when our own strength fails us. Naaman is a great military commander from Syria, but he has no power to heal himself. The psalmist, traditionally David, has become too comfortable in his prosperity. Both men must humble themselves before they can experience healing and restoration from God. How often do we let our pride stand in the way of our healing? Paul admonishes his readers to carry themselves with humility and to build up one another. What they do will always come back to them; what we sow, we reap. The story in Luke warns against being proud even of the gifts that God gives us. Our greatest joy is not that we can do things for God but that God already has accepted us.
Read 2 Kings 5:1-14. When have God’s instructions been more involved than you expected? How did you respond?
Read Psalm 30. How can you continue to praise God during the dark, lonely, and hopeless times?
Read Galatians 6:1-16. When has your faith community struggled with members’ lack of humility? How did you resolve the situation so that you could welcome and nurture new Christians?
Read Luke 10:1-11, 16-20. When have you misconstrued God’s accomplishments as your own successes? How did you refocus your life or ministry on serving God?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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