Now Naaman, captain of the army of the king of Aram, was a great man with his master, and highly respected, because by him the Lord had given victory to Aram. The man was also a valiant warrior, but he was a leper. Now the Arameans had gone out in bands and had taken captive a little girl from the land of Israel; and she waited on Naaman’s wife. She said to her mistress, “I wish that my master were with the prophet who is in Samaria! Then he would cure him of his leprosy.” Naaman went in and told his master, saying, “Thus and thus spoke the girl who is from the land of Israel.” Then the king of Aram said, “Go now, and I will send a letter to the king of Israel.” He departed and took with him ten talents of silver and six thousand shekels of gold and ten changes of clothes. He brought the letter to the king of Israel, saying, “And now as this letter comes to you, behold, I have sent Naaman my servant to you, that you may cure him of his leprosy.” When the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his clothes and said, “Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man is sending word to me to cure a man of his leprosy? But consider now, and see how he is seeking a quarrel against me.” It happened when Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes, that he sent word to the king, saying, “Why have you torn your clothes? Now let him come to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel.” So Naaman came with his horses and his chariots and stood at the doorway of the house of Elisha. Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh will be restored to you and you will be clean.” But Naaman was furious and went away and said, “Behold, I thought, ‘He will surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper. Are not Abanah and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, 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. Then his servants came near and spoke to him and said, “My father, had the prophet told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more then, when he says to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?” So he went down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God; and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child and he was clean. When he returned to the man of God with all his company, and came and stood before him, he said, “Behold now, I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel; so please take a present from your servant now.”
– 2 Kings 5.1-15
Sometimes I am such a Naaman. Are you? Do you ever walk into a situation and have a plan for how exactly you want God to work it out, and when He offers a different solution you get mad instead of just listening or trusting?
Naaman was prominent in his own land. He did not particularly like Israel, in fact he had taken an Israelite girl as a slave for his wife, but he was willing to go ask them for help when there was a glimmer of hope for his healing. There was no cure for leprosy in the day, so he was willing to give anything a shot. But he had it in his head how it would go. He wanted Elisha to come out, wave his hand over him and call upon God to heal him. So instead of listening to Elisha’s instructions he got mad and headed home. Thankfully his servants were wise enough to encourage him to jut give it a try, so he did. And God healed him.
God rarely works the same way twice. And He also rarely does what we expect Him to do. Have you ever had a grand notion of how a relationship would be restored, how a job would work out or any plan you made would unfold? When it involves God’s intervention, it rarely happens how we expect. And I believe that is by His design. Why? Because we prepare ourselves for what we expect. And that requires minimal, if any, faith.
For someone who has spent his entire life planning on living the American Dream as a strong Christian, establishing a career, building a family, owning a comfortable home and saving up a handsome retirement, to be called overseas to work as a missionary in a land where Christians are hated and persecuted for their faith takes an insurmountable amount of faith and daily reliance on God. It means dying to himself, putting away his perceptions of success and trusting God for life and satisfaction.
His brother, on the other hand, who has spent his entire life planning on living in a religiously persecuted country in the service of God, who has never invested in owning a home or living the American Dream, has gone to college and grad school towards that end, applied every ounce of energy to preparation for living in a land of little amongst the poor – to spend a season “stuck” (as he would perceive it) in the United States requires infinitely more faith and trust than serving in a country closed to the Gospel.
The career oriented woman who finds herself pregnant has to rely on God and trust Him that He wants her to be a mother and to make appropriate adjustments in her life to do so well and unto His glory, just like the woman who has always desired a big family must trust God when she finds out that she is incapable of bearing children.
God uniquely equips us and prepares us for the paths that He has established before us, but he also rocks our worlds and puts us in situations where we are uncomfortable and incapable of growing and thriving in our faith and maturity without Him.
God is primarily concerned with His glory through our faith and trust in Him. So He will often take us down the path that requires more faith from us. God alone changes hearts, and He does not need us to do His bidding. But He does give us the opportunity to serve Him and be a part of His plan in bringing the Kingdom of God to Earth, in ways that we must trust and rely on Him.
So today, if something is not going according to plan, let’s got jump in the muddy Jordan River together and rinse off our leprosy. Let’s not turn away in anger. Let’s not compare our own rivers to the Jordan. Let’s not even get in and dip in the water two or three times. Let’s walk down, get muddy, and dip. All. Seven. Times. And we will learn faith, we will learn to trust, and we will see the healing and providential hand of God guide our paths.