Naaman wants to be healed of his leprosy, but he also seems to need to be recognized as an important person. Naaman wants Elisha to perform some complex ritual, not just prescribe a simple bath in a not very impressive river. Naaman’s ego almost gets in the way of his healing, until his assistants point out that he would have gladly performed a difficult task if the prophet had assigned it. So why not take a simple path?
Naaman is not a sympathetic character, so we might be reluctant to identify with him. But I can imagine feeling slighted and skeptical if I traveled to a respected hospital for relief from an ongoing illness, only to have the doctor send someone out to the parking lot to tell me just to wash my hands each day.
Naaman needed for his healing to be complicated to satisfy his sense of importance. Sometimes we want a recognition of how serious our problems are. But what if what we need is not complexity but humility? Humility is often the first step toward being able to accept help, to be human. As long as we are insisting on our own agendas, we miss the signs that God is working through something or someone we do not expect.
A prayerful posture that begins with gratitude for our lives and the world around us can help us step back and find our place in God’s intentions. We might realize we are standing deep in the flow of a healing river.
What’s the most humble task you do regularly in your household? Taking out the trash? Cleaning the cat box? Do a chore today with gratitude, and notice how such seemingly menial tasks can become pathways to prayer.
The readings from the Hebrew scriptures describe what can happen when our own strength fails us. Naaman is a great military commander from Syria, but he has no power to heal himself. The psalmist, traditionally David, has become too comfortable in his prosperity. Both men must humble themselves before they can experience healing and restoration from God. How often do we let our pride stand in the way of our healing? Paul admonishes his readers to carry themselves with humility and to build up one another. What they do will always come back to them; what we sow, we reap. The story in Luke warns against being proud even of the gifts that God gives us. Our greatest joy is not that we can do things for God but that God has already accepted us.
Read 2 Kings 5:1-14. When have God’s instructions been more involved than you expected? How did you respond?
Read Psalm 30. How can you continue to praise God during dark, lonely, and hopeless times?
Read Galatians 6:1-16. When has your faith community struggled with members’ lack of humility? How did you resolve the situation so that you could welcome and nurture new Christians?
Read Luke 10:1-11, 16-20. When have you misconstrued God’s accomplishments as your own successes? How did you refocus your life or ministry on serving God?
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