2 Kings 5:1-14 (ESV)
Naaman Healed of Leprosy
5 Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master and in high favor, because by him the Lord had given victory to Syria. He was a mighty man of valor, but he was a leper.[a] 2 Now the Syrians on one of their raids had carried off a little girl from the land of Israel, and she worked in the service of Naaman's wife. 3 She said to her mistress, “Would that my lord were with the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.” 4 So Naaman went in and told his lord, “Thus and so spoke the girl from the land of Israel.” 5 And the king of Syria said, “Go now, and I will send a letter to the king of Israel.”
So he went, taking with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels[b] of gold, and ten changes of clothing. 6 And he brought the letter to the king of Israel, which read, “When this letter reaches you, know that I have sent to you Naaman my servant, that you may cure him of his leprosy.” 7 And when the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his clothes and said, “Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man sends word to me to cure a man of his leprosy? Only consider, and see how he is seeking a quarrel with me.”
8 But when Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes, he sent to the king, saying, “Why have you torn your clothes? Let him come now to me, that he may know that there is a prophet in Israel.” 9 So Naaman came with his horses and chariots and stood at the door of Elisha's house. 10 And Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored, and you shall be clean.” 11 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. 12 Are not Abana[c] 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. 13 But his servants came near and said to him, “My father, it is a great word the prophet has spoken to you; will you not do it? Has he actually said to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?” 14 So he went down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God, and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.
“No pain, no gain” is a slogan often used to inspire people to work harder, particularly at some physical activity. The idea is that anything worth having is worth working hard for. We shouldn’t expect to see results if we aren’t willing to work hard, or perhaps even suffer for what we hope to achieve or gain in the end.
As in so many cases, today’s Bible story expresses an alternate viewpoint, one that goes against worldly concepts like “no pain, no gain.” Naaman visits the prophet Elisha in hopes of having his leprosy cured. Elisha doesn’t even meet with Naaman face to face, but sends word that all Naaman has to do is bathe in the Jordan River seven times, and he will be healed. At first, Naaman is offended and angry. He’s traveled a long way, brought along valuable gifts, and he no doubt expects to participate in an elaborate and perhaps difficult ceremony or ritual in order to be healed. Instead, he’s just told (via messenger) to go dip in the local river.
Another interesting part of this story is that Naaman doesn’t exhibit any great faith. His servants talk him into bathing in the river seven times (after all, it can’t hurt), and Naaman finally gives it a try. The implication is that he is very skeptical, but he follows the instructions anyway. He isn’t healed because of his faith. He’s healed because of God’s power.
Following God’s will in our lives will sometimes be difficult. There will be pain before there’s any gain. But sometimes, following God’s will might be as simple as dipping in the river. Just because it seems easy, that doesn’t mean it isn’t from God. When following God is difficult, it’s an opportunity to strengthen our faith. When following God is a little easier, maybe it’s an opportunity for God to demonstrate his power.
Dear Lord, help us to listen for your will in our lives. When it seems hard, give us strength. When it seems easy, give us humility to let your power speak for itself. In Jesus’ name,
Written by Melissa Roselle Preschool Director of Education firstname.lastname@example.org