In today’s chapter, an army commander is seeking to be heard from his leprosy. Leprosy was a disease that began as a small red sore on the body, then grew into the flesh being covered with white, scaly sores. Then the afflicted might begin to lose their hair, and eventually their finger and toe nails. It gets far more gruesome than that. Naaman, being a highly esteemed and respectable army commander, didn’t want this disease to take his life.
When he reaches Israel, he finds Elisha’s house, and without coming out, Elisha through a message tell him to go wash in the Jordan River seven times and he would be healed. Naaman was mad at not being received by Elisha, and mad about having to go wash in the river. He was hoping to just show up and be healed and be done. He didn’t realize he actually had to work for it. He was mad when God didn’t work as he expected.
The Jordan River was a very muddy river, and not the most hygienic. So Naaman was thinking if he needed to go into a river, he would have been better off at the ones in Damascus. He had doubt and anger about his situation. He was however convinced by his servants to give it a try, and he was cleaned as Elisha had said. He realized the true God.
Elisha wanted people to work in their healings because he wanted the credit to go to God. Naaman today, and the the poor widow yesterday, had to overcome their own pride to receive from the Lord. Instead of leaning on another as a crutch, we need to lean on God for support.
I’ve told this before, but this remind me of a joke my priest said growing up in church:
A man prayed each night to win the lottery. Every night, he would pray “Lord please help me win the lottery.” But the man never won. Finally, one night as he was praying harder than ever before, he heard the voice of God saying, “Well if you would buy a lottery ticket...”
Sometimes we try to avoid doing the work and reap the benefits. That’s not how God wants us to live. He wants us to pray to him and know we will receive his grace, yes. But we aren’t meant to be bumps on a log. We need to go out and serve the world as Jesus did. We need to jump in the Jordan River when we are told so we can be cleaned, and ask our neighbors for bottles so we can fill them with oil. These of course are theoretical notions, but the sentiment is there. We need to go.