2 Kings 5:1-3, 7-15c (NRSV)
Chapter 5Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Aram, was a great man and in high favor with his master, because by him the Lord had given victory to Aram. The man, though a mighty warrior, suffered from leprosy. Verse 2Now the Arameans on one of their raids had taken a young girl captive from the land of Israel, and she served Naaman's wife. Verse 3She said to her mistress, "If only my lord were with the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy." Verse 7When the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his clothes and said, "Am I God, to give death or life, that this man sends word to me to cure a man of his leprosy? Just look and see how he is trying to pick a quarrel with me." Verse 8But when Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes, he sent a message to the king, "Why have you torn your clothes? Let him come to me, that he may learn that there is a prophet in Israel."
Verse 9So Naaman came with his horses and chariots, and halted at the entrance of Elisha's house. Verse 10Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, "Go, wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored and you shall be clean." Verse 11But Naaman became angry and went away, saying, "I thought that for me he would surely come out, and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and would wave his hand over the spot, and cure the leprosy! Verse 12Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them, and be clean?" He turned and went away in a rage. Verse 13But his servants approached and said to him, "Father, if the prophet had commanded you to do something difficult, would you not have done it? How much more, when all he said to you was, 'Wash, and be clean'?" Verse 14So he went down and immersed himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God; his flesh was restored like the flesh of a young boy, and he was clean.
Verse 15Then he returned to the man of God, he and all his company; he came and stood before him and said, "Now I know that there is no God in all the earth except in Israel; please accept a present from your servant."
Naaman bothers me. Could it be because he is a violent, militaristic man, often at the expense of the Israelites? Could Naaman's skin disease be him getting what he deserves?
Naaman bothers me. Could it be because of his fit over Elisha's instructions to wash in the Jordan? Could his chauvinism be catching up with him?
Naaman bothers me. Could it be because... there is a little bit of Naaman in me? I have met with a counselor the past few months. I expected to comb through painful past memories or be scolded for my shortcomings. After a few meetings, he suggested I spend a few minutes a day in mindfulness and quiet prayer. Sounded easy enough.
Yet it has been so hard. Like Naaman, I yearn for something difficult, not something simple like sitting silently in God's presence and receiving a word of love.
Is there anything seemingly simple in your life that feels particularly hard right now for you?
Creative God, you shape us in ways expected and unexpected. Open our eyes and our hearts to your work in us and in our world. Amen.