In this story of a miraculous healing, we see the powerful and the humble drawn together, as God uses persons and circumstances to reveal the divine will. Naaman, who is the victor in battle, is helpless against the disease of leprosy. The king of Israel, powerful within his kingdom, is suspicious of Naaman. In contrast, we see humble persons who act as agents for God’s will. The servant of Naaman’s wife, taken captive in war, could have been bitter about her status but seeks the good of those around her. She suggests that the prophet of her home country could provide healing. Naaman’s assistants, also modest in power and status, urge their irritated boss not to reject the method of healing prescribed by the prophet but to give it a chance to work.
In the center of these two sets of characters, between the powerful and the powerless, stands the prophet Elisha, who makes it clear that worldly power is nothing compared to God’s power. Elisha is the instrument of healing, but he does not need to make the act of healing extravagant or showy. What would be a magnificent feat for an earthly doctor is done simply by the divine healer. God’s grace and mercy are there for those who are able to listen and humbly accept.
This healing is part of a longer story of the political power struggles in Israel’s rise and fall. Within the larger frame, this moment can also be set apart as a timeless reminder of the power of God to bring us into relationship so that we may be made whole.
This week, try out some simple prayer actions as a way to practice humility. Try washing your hands slowly and meditatively, seeking the wellspring of every blessing, asking for its mercy to flow toward all those in need of healing.
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 has already 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 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.