Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Don't Quit!

Naaman was a man who received a great miracle but his story could have ended very differently than what it did. Naaman was an important man in the army. He was a commander used to giving orders not having to follow them. He had the respect of his men and answered only to the king. Yes, he was an important person. He was probably a little proud of his accomplishments and maybe even a little full of his own importance. But Naaman had a problem, a big problem. Naaman had leprosy, something of which there was no cure. 

On one of the raids he had authorized, his men had captured a young girl from Israel and brought her to Naaman's house to be a servant to his wife. God had placed this young girl in Naaman's household because God had a plan (He always does). God would use this young girl, a servant and a believer in Him, to reach out to Naaman, the mighty commander of the army. 

While she was serving her mistress one day, the young girl said “If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.” (2 Kings 5:3). Of course, her mistress told Naaman, her husband, and he left immediately to gain the king's permission to go to the prophet Elisha to be healed. The king granted permission. He didn't want to lose a commander such as Naaman to leprosy so he was willing to have him go see the prophet. 

When Naaman arrived at Elisha's house he was greeted by servants and made to wait at the door. This angered Naaman who was used to being treated much differently. His pride was further injured when Elisha was told who was at his door but he still refused to meet with him, instead he sent a message to Naaman. And what a message it was! Elisha's message through his servant was that Naaman should go to the Jordan river and bathe seven times and he would be healed. 

"But Naaman went away angry and said, “I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy. Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than any of the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them and be cleansed?” So he turned and went off in a rage". (2 Kings 5:11-12)

Aren't we sometimes like Naaman? We have a plan of how God should work in our situation and it throws us off when God has a different plan. I believe God wanted to humble the mighty Naaman by having him wash in the muddy Jordan river. Naaman just wanted the prophet to wave a hand and like magic his leprosy would disappear but God had a different plan. Naaman's pride almost cost him his healing. Upon hearing Elisha's message he left in a rage. He probably thought this whole trip had been a waste of his time. He was boiling mad. Things weren't going his way at all. 

Thankfully Naaman's servants talked sense into him and made him realize that anything the prophet said was worth trying. They said:  "if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, ‘Wash and be cleansed’!” So he went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, as the man of God had told him, and his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy." (2 Kings 5:13-14) 

What if Naaman had quit after  hearing the seemingly ridiculous instructions given to him? He wouldn't have received his healing. When he went to the river, with all of his servants watching him and probably some spectators as well, what then? What if he had quit then? What if after dipping two or three times? What if after six times he had quit? He still wouldn't have received his healing because the instructions were to bathe seven times in the Jordan river. If he had allowed his pride and rage to rule him, he would have quit and he wouldn't have received his healing.

But he did receive it and when he returned to Elisha's house, Elisha greeted him. Naaman said to Elisha “Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel." (v.15) Naaman was a believer. He had turned to God. There are so many ways we can look at this account. We can applaud the young Jewish girl, far from home, living in a heathen country but still serving God and being used by Him. We can concentrate on how pride can keep us from so many good things God has in store for us.

 But what I want most for us to take from this account today is not to quit. When everything is dark...keep on trusting....when it seems hopeless and others have given up....keep believing....when you're tired and feel you can't go on....take one more step.....never give up, never give in, never stop because you are THAT close to a miracle.

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