The king of Aram had great admiration for Naaman, the commander of his army, because through him the Lord had given Aram great victories. But though Naaman was a mighty warrior, he suffered from leprosy.
At this time Aramean raiders had invaded the land of Israel, and among their captives was a young girl who had been given to Naaman’s wife as a maid. One day the girl said to her mistress, “I wish my master would go to see the prophet in Samaria. He would heal him of his leprosy.”
So Naaman told the king what the young girl from Israel had said. “Go and visit the prophet,” the king of Aram told him. “I will send a letter of introduction for you to take to the king of Israel.” So Naaman started out, carrying as gifts 750 pounds of silver, 150 pounds of gold, and ten sets of clothing. The letter to the king of Israel said: “With this letter I present my servant Naaman. I want you to heal him of his leprosy.”
When the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his clothes in dismay and said, “Am I God, that I can give life and take it away? Why is this man asking me to heal someone with leprosy? I can see that he’s just trying to pick a fight with me.”
But when Elisha, the man of God, heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes in dismay, he sent this message to him: “Why are you so upset? Send Naaman to me, and he will learn that there is a true prophet here in Israel.”
So Naaman went with his horses and chariots and waited at the door of Elisha’s house. But Elisha sent a messenger out to him with this message: “Go and wash yourself seven times in the Jordan River. Then your skin will be restored, and you will be healed of your leprosy.”
But Naaman became angry and stalked away. “I thought he would certainly come out to meet me!” he said. “I expected him to wave his hand over the leprosy and call on the name of the Lord his God and heal me! Aren’t the rivers of Damascus, the Abana and the Pharpar, better than any of the rivers of Israel? Why shouldn’t I wash in them and be healed?” So Naaman turned and went away in a rage.
But his officers tried to reason with him and said, “Sir, if the prophet had told you to do something very difficult, wouldn’t you have done it? So you should certainly obey him when he says simply, ‘Go and wash and be cured!’” So Naaman went down to the Jordan River and dipped himself seven times, as the man of God had instructed him. And his skin became as healthy as the skin of a young child, and he was healed!
Then Naaman and his entire party went back to find the man of God. They stood before him, and Naaman said, “Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel. So please accept a gift from your servant.” (2 Kings 5:1–15 NLT)
As the deer longs for streams of water,
so I long for you, O God.
I thirst for God, the living God.
When can I go and stand before him?
Day and night I have only tears for food,
while my enemies continually taunt me, saying,
“Where is this God of yours?”
My heart is breaking
as I remember how it used to be:
I walked among the crowds of worshipers,
leading a great procession to the house of God,
singing for joy and giving thanks
amid the sound of a great celebration!
Why am I discouraged?
Why is my heart so sad?
I will put my hope in God!
I will praise him again—
my Savior and my God!
Now I am deeply discouraged,
but I will remember you—
even from distant Mount Hermon, the source of the Jordan,
from the land of Mount Mizar.
I hear the tumult of the raging seas
as your waves and surging tides sweep over me. (Psalm 42:1–7)
“Dear God, why can’t you just wave your magic wand and heal me? I know you can do that. We see it all through Scripture. You touch someone, and they are healed. Sometimes you weren’t even physically present and you still healed them. So why are you asking me to participate in the work of your healing? Just asking for a friend. . . . Amen.”
For reasons unknown to us all, God doesn’t usually choose to merely heal us. It does happen, but it is not the norm. In 2 Kings 5:1–15, we find the story of Naaman was no different. At first, I wondered why Naaman was being so difficult. Why doesn’t he just do what Elisha told him to do? And then to demand Elisha just wave his hand over him for God to cure him – what entitlement!
But I have to be honest, am I any different than Naaman? I don’t want to need to work for the miracle. Just touch me and heal me. Say a holy word and the deed is done.
There is a longing in each of us for the hand of God on us, for his Spirit to touch our spirit. We want to KNOW he is God.
Longing is a cry of the soul. It comes from that part of us that connects with God. It is the spiritual void that is unfulfilled –the void only God’s Spirit can satisfy. We look for that fulfillment in all the wrong places. Honestly, it is not only in unspiritual places we seek our fulfillment. I used ministry to fill my soul and connect with God. As well, when one of our sons was seriously ill with Crohn’s disease, I cried out for the miracle. “Just heal him God! We will anoint him with oil, we will lay hands on him and pray for him, and you need to heal him.”
But God chose a different way to heal him. There was work to be done. God used the hands of a surgeon and an unwanted surgery that would require a different way of life for our son. He used pharmaceuticals alongside to heal him. This kind of healing required obedience on the part of all of us. It required deep trust and faith that our son would come out the other side. But this partnership in healing provided a journey with God into the deepest parts of our soul, into places that needed to be dealt with. It is a journey I wouldn’t wish on anyone but one I would not trade because it was an experience of partnering with God in his healing work. It was a redemptive work that restored our souls.
Perhaps that’s a little picture of our Lenten journey toward the cross. To walk with Jesus in his ministry, his suffering, and his resurrection is to catch a glimpse of God’s heart for all of us. To enter into his suffering is to experience the tenderness of his healing touch. Suffering is a journey of the soul toward the heart of God as he gently brings us to a place of being able to say, even in our darkest hours, “It is well with my soul.”
—Deb Judas is a member of the Forge Canada Team and a former NAB pastor.