2 Kings 5 is like an old friend to me. The story of Naaman and the servant girl and the leprosy and the washing and the happy ending is one of the most memorable of my childhood. Maybe it’s the young girl in the story, maybe it’s the miracle, or may it is that Elisha’s servant Gahazi has such a fun name to say. Either way, I was looking forward to reading it quickly this morning and going away happy. Then I came to Naaman’s response to Elisha in verses 11-12:
“But Naaman was angry and went away, saying ‘Behold, I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call upon the name of the LORD his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper. Are not Abana 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.
I was cut to the quick. I was shocked, because Naaman is just like me.
At a very basic level, here we have an individual who has come to the almighty God (as a last resort) with their problem. God shows mercy and gives simple easy instructions for how to miraculously fix the problem. What a deal right? Wow! The God of the universe has given me exactly what I need to do for my well being which, I think we all can agree, he knows about best. But what is the response?
I heard my words in Naaman’s mouth. “What?! I thought that I was worth more than this. I mean, look at who I am, look at where I come from! And while we’re on that topic, how far I’ve come! First, I was expecting a little more decorum, like, show your face already! And then, why are you telling me to go somewhere else and wash when I know you could just wave your wand over my problem and make it go away! How insulting and unfair!” Disappointment, frustration, and anger leave him puzzled and defeated, but why does he respond that way? Why do I?
Go read it yourself! Look at how he approaches God’s prophet and then responds:
-He bring silver, gold, and clothes
-He brings a letter from the King
-He comes with all his horses and chariots
-And stood at Elisha’s door (probably more like a hut)
-He is insulted that he isn’t met personally
-He expects a fireworks-and-trumpets kind of miracle
-He says his water is much more sanitary (like seriously, I know better than you God)
But what did God want? Simple obedience. From where Naaman was there was a ton of humbling that had to happen for him to just simply do what he was told.
How do I come to God? When I have a problem and I come to God for help, what is my attitude? I can tell you exactly what it was this morning: pride. I didn’t even realize it, but it was. See, here’s the thing: I’m awesome. (shocker) I grew up in a Christian home and have been saved for close to 16 years. Because of the Holy Spirit in my life and my wholesome upbringing I was (blessedly!) kept from a lifestyle of lying, cheating, swearing, physical rebellion, drugs, promiscuity, fornication, and gossip. I had my own sins, believe me! But I didn’t look like all the other sinners, so I got prideful. I’m currently and active member of my local church, I’m in Bible studies and I want to see others get saved and grow. My heart beats for ministry, I’m a pretty nice person, and, by God’s grace I’m getting better (becoming more like Jesus) all the time. And that just the spiritual aspect. SO. . . there’s my reputation, my family, my job, my status, my silver and gold, my horses and chariots, my letter, my background. Don’t I deserve something special, after all? Let’s just do this my way, it will be much more pleasant.
Granted, I don’t consciously think this, but it is there. Way. deep. down. it is there. I’ve expected God to treat me a certain way because of me, and when He doesn’t I react the same way as Naaman. Different words, if any, come out of my mouth, but the feeling is the same:puzzlement and frustration — the anger. Instead of going and washing in the Jordan (whatever that looks like today. It might be reading my Bible everyday. It might be a long month of prayer and waiting. It might simply be confessing my sin.) I get upset that God didn’t just snap His fingers and give me what I want. Talk about being a Brat of a child of God! That’s not the way a family works.
So, I was wrong. I seem to be admitting that a lot recently. I’m wrong. I struggle with pride. BIG TIME. I can’t properly express all the different implications and applications from this piece of scripture right now, but I know this: I am just a sinner that Jesus saved. I love Him. He has my best interest at heart. He will heal me(my ailment is called sin). He loves me. He expects obedience. He expects me to struggle with and work through my sanctification (Philippians 2:12), but He hasn’t made it impossible. I need to change my wrong expectations and humbly do as He says.
Then, can I joyfully say with Naaman, “Behold, I know that there is no God in all the earth but [the LORD]. (2 Kings 5:15)