“Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Aram, was a great man and in high favor with his master, because by him the Lord had given victory to Aram. The man, though a mighty warrior, suffered from leprosy. Now the Arameans on one of their raids had taken a young girl captive from the land of Israel, and she served Naaman’s wife.” (II Kings 5:1-2)
I was just telling someone today how writing this blog (and my other one, “Pondering from the Pacific) helps me cope with day to day life – with all the things that are a part of my life. Today’s passage deals with illness and healing through unlikely means. It would suit my purposes more if I can gloss over the “unlikely means” part. But it is part of the scripture passage and I cannot allow myself to set is aside.
“Unlikely means” – The first two verses of this passage do not fully explain that, so maybe I could pass it by. But the second part of this passage puts the “unlikely means” front and center. So, I need to look this in the eye, so to speak. “Unlikely means” – I had to stop and ponder a minute what that might mean to me. When I was diagnosed with the two conditions 15 years ago that set the stage for what was to come, I did not consider strongly or deeply whether I should/could ask for healing. One was a condition (diabetes) which while no “cure” for was certainly manageable. It required changes, but those changes turned out to be healthy options which allowed me to lose the weight that might have caused problems for me in later years. The second condition, Meniere’s Syndrome, does not have any guaranteed treatment or cure, but I have been able to manage in spite of it. And it has open up opportunities in my life to minister to people, and has deepened my dependence on God – both not too bad outcomes. Now, however, with my new condition I am back to wondering about cures. Wondering about faith to ask for, believe in, and receive a cure. But also wondering what things might come of this condition. So for me, “unlikely means” does not mean so much a cure, but a changing of the path and course of my life, and having faith that out of a negative will come a God-inspired positive. So let us turn to the second part of this passage and see how the lessons of/from my life might apply.
Oh! By the way, the unlikely means here was that the Israelite slave girl was the means that Naaman learned about his cure!
“He [Naaman was sent by the king of Aram] brought the letter to the king of Israel, which read, “When this letter reaches you, know that I have sent to you my servant Naaman, 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 give death or life, that this man sends word to me to cure a man of his leprosy? Just look and see how he is trying to pick a quarrel with me.”
But when Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes, he sent a message to the king, “Why have you torn your clothes? Let him come to me, that he may learn that there is a prophet in Israel.” So Naaman came with his horses and chariots, and halted at the entrance of Elisha’s house. Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go, wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored and you shall be clean.” But Naaman became angry and went away, saying, “I thought that for me he would surely come out, and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and would wave his hand over the spot, and cure the leprosy! Are not Abana[d] and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them, and be clean?” He turned and went away in a rage. But his servants approached and said to him, “Father, if the prophet had commanded you to do something difficult, would you not have done it? How much more, when all he said to you was, ‘Wash, and be clean’?” So he went down and immersed himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God; his flesh was restored like the flesh of a young boy, and he was clean.” (Verses 6 – 14)
Remember back in verse 1 where it said that Naaman was highly regarded? He, like me, probably was taken a back that such a thing would happen to him. A condition that disrupted what he thought the course of his life should be. Thanks be to God that I learned my lesson without having to bath in water in a distant land. But then, I am not a highly regarded warrior who commanded many. I had a much shorter journey to a place of receiving what God had for me than Naaman. I am not saying I am any better/more devote or anything like that than anyone else. I am thankful my learning curve was gentler and easier. But just as unlikely as Naaman’s – that is, who would have expected that three negatives could result in some positives?! And, let’s not forget, Naaman was cured and I still have all three conditions.
In the verses that follow, but that the RCL does not include, Naaman does come to faith in the God of Israel and vows to follow that God. Maybe because I was already at a place of faith, my journey is different than Naaman’s. I know there are those who have conditions etc much worse than mine (although some days that is hard to believe) and are cured. I have come to realize that is not my path. My “unlikely means” are very different. And I hold fast to the belief that God is ever with me, as I pray beloved reader that God is ever with you! Selah!