Isn’t That Just Like God!
2 Kings 5:1-14
Do you remember the story of Naaman? He was the commanding general of the army of Syria. The king held him in high esteem because he had led the army so successfully. He seemed indestructible. Nobody could best him at his chosen profession. He was on top of the world. Then he discovered he had leprosy.
Today we don’t hear much about leprosy, or think much about it either. It is a disease that has been contained. There are medications that are so effective that the effects have been minimized. No longer are lepers forced to live in isolation from the rest of civilization. Gone are the days when they were condemned to live alone or with others so afflicted until they died.
But in biblical times leprosy was feared—so feared that any skin condition was suspected of being leprous. Any rash, any skin inflammation was cause to ban the afflicted person from all contact with others.
And Naaman was a leper.
There was in his household a young girl who had been taken captive from Israel. She had occasion to say to her mistress, Naaman’s wife, that the prophet Elisha could cure her master. Upon hearing the welcome news, Naaman did the only thing that made sense to him. He went with a letter of introduction from his king to the Israelite king—who panicked. He knew he couldn’t cure Naaman. He was sure this was a plot hatched to give the Syrian king an excuse for going to war and conquering Israel.
Elisha heard of the king’s dilemma and said, “Send him to me. I’ll cure him in God’s name.”
Here’s the best part of the story. When Naaman came to Elisha’s house, the prophet didn’t even go out to see him. He sent a servant to tell him to dip himself in the river Jordan seven times. Naaman was furious, first at being ignored, and second at being given so simple a task. But one of his servants persuaded him to try the cure—and it worked!
Isn’t that just like God to use someone as insignificant as a servant girl to spread the good news? We complain because we haven’t got the right skills, or the right opportunity, or the right clothes to do God’s work. All she did was open her mouth in witness to God’s healing power.
Isn’t that just like God to humble us when we are feeling too sure of ourselves? When we think we’re something pretty special, God finds a way of letting us know we still have a few things to learn. Naaman arrived at Elisha’s door with all the pomp of the greatest general in the region, only to find himself face to face with a servant who delivered an unpalatable message.
Isn’t that just like God to give us a task that has absolutely no glamor at all? Naaman was ready to do some mighty deed to impress God with his abilities. Instead, through Elisha, God told him to take a bath.
Isn’t that just like God to work in the humblest of circumstances, and through the humblest of people to bring about the results God wants? The kings in this story were helpless to cure Naaman of an illness that would have separated him from his family, his profession, his friends—from all he held dear. Servants delivered the messages that brought Naaman to the place where he could be healed.
Isn’t that just like God to choose us, people with no special talents, no great abilities, to carry the gospel to the world? Isn’t that just like God to equip us to do the work we are called to do?