Naaman was a commander of the army of the king of Syria. He was a highly respected leader, but he had leprosy.
2 Kings 5:10-14 Elisha sent a messenger to him (Naaman), saying, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh will be restored to you and you will be clean.”11 But Naaman was furious and went away and said, “Indeed! I thought ‘He would at least come out to [see] me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place [of leprosy] and heal the leper.’ 12 Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus [in Aram], better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?” So he turned and went away in a rage. 13 Then his servants approached and said to him, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more then, when he has said to you, ‘Wash, and be clean?’” 14 So he went down and plunged himself into the Jordan seven times, just as the man of God had said; and his flesh was restored like that of a little child and he was clean.
Naaman felt disrespected by the prophet Elisha. He was accustomed to being highly esteemed and honored everywhere he went. When Elisha did not even come out to see him, he was furious. And if that wasn’t enough he had requested that Naaman bathe in the Jordan River, which was not particularly clean. Other rivers in Damascus were much more suited for bathing. To say that this infuriated Naaman would be an understatement. Intensely insulted, Naaman turned to leave – leprosy and all.
Perhaps, if a person of low-degree had come to Elisha making the same request, the instructions given them may have been completely different. After all, it was not the Jordan River that healed Naaman. It had no healing powers of its own. And God could just as easily healed him by instructing Elisha to make a big display by calling out to the Heavens and waving his hand over Naaman’s leprosy. But, there was a reason that Naaman had to be healed in the way that he was – his pride.
It is possible that the Lord’s prescription for Naaman’s healing would be the ideal antidote for his pride as well as his leprosy. As horrible as leprosy is, Naaman had a more pressing (and even more damaging) underlying issue. God knows the heart and when He looked at Naaman’s, He saw the uglier disease of pride that plagued his soul. At first, even to his own detriment, Naaman walked away because he felt disrespected by Elisha. He felt the prophet’s instructions were beneath him and he would keep his disease rather than humble himself and be healed.
When we come to the Lord with our prayer requests, He is always interested in our total healing. And He loves us too much to heal the surficial stuff and leave our needy hearts untouched.
There’s another point to be made from this text. Notice that when Naaman’s servants went to him they said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more then, when he tells you to ‘wash and be cleansed’!”
Too often we expect God to work in a magnificent, dramatic fashion. But when He gives simplistic instructions, we have trouble basing our faith on anything other than the extraordinary. We attempt to make it more about us than Him (notice they said, “If the prophet had told ‘you’ to do some great thing, you would have done it”). God will not give us any room to take credit.
The best example we have of this is the Plan of Salvation. It seems too simplistic to just believe! That’s why I think we have so much trouble letting go of our works mentality – surely (we think), there’s got to be more to it than that. We search for some great thing that we must do. Why? So that we can take the credit for our works. How often did Jesus chastise the Pharisee’s and religious leaders for this?
Pride! – if a dip in the waters of the Jordan River could cleanse it, we could all benefit from a good dunking…and that right often.
The fact is, whatever we receive from God must come through grace. Healing, salvation, and every other good thing that He promises comes only through grace. So often we go out of our way to complicate what He has gone to great and painful measures to make simple?
Why do we find it so hard to receive from God? We want to make a big production out of everything, and God just wants us to take Him at His Word.
Yes, it really is that simple!
When your prayers go unanswered and despair clings to you like Naaman’s leprosy, ask God to show you any underlying issues that may be preventing you from receiving your answer. He wants to heal you completely and the soul often cleverly hides our greatest need (the heart is deceitful above all things, Jer. 17:9). Naaman was restored, both inside and out once he let go of his pride. Ask God to reveal, cleanse and heal the issues that only He can see.
Remember, it’s not about what you can do to deserve God’s grace. We often want to do some ‘great thing’ when we only need to trust in a ‘Great God’!
Copyright © 2017 (Sandra Briggs). All rights reserved.