Chronicled in II Kings
Naaman was kind of a big deal. II Kings 5 describes him with such language as “great,” “honorable,” and “mighty man of valor.” He was captain of the Syrian army and had achieved many victories. So, yeah, he was an important man. But, he had leprosy. That changes everything. Well, not exactly. Naaman was still all of those others things. He just had something going on beneath his shiny armor that was secretly destroying his life (oh, that’ll preach!).
Undoubtedly, there were the people closest to him who knew of his dreaded affliction, but I’m sure he hid it well for a while. That’s kind of how sin works. We hope we can shroud our human frailty while sending our “ambassador selves,” the perfect portrayal of us, out in public. Once sin has taken hold, it becomes deadly, like leprosy. It is impossible to hide it forever. Eventually, the decay on the inside will show through on the outside.
Naaman was desperate to cure this evil that had befallen him. All of his greatness, his honor, and his valor could do nothing to cleanse him. After all, the Bible does say that our righteousness is as filthy rags. He had to do something drastic. Proof positive is in the fact that he listened to an Israelite servant girl. First, men in Naaman’s position did not consult women on anything. Second, she was an Israelite slave. Syrians had disdain for Israelites. They were enemies. She was a servant at that. What could she possibly do to help? But, he listened to her advice to visit the prophet Elisha in Samaria.
Naaman gathered his horses and chariots and rushed to Elisha’s abode. He was seeking a glorious word from the man of God. What he got shocked him: And Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored to you, and you shall be clean (II Kings 5:10).”
Naaman was fit to be tied. I can hear the conversation he had with himself: “What?! He sent his messenger to me? He didn’t have the decency to come out himself? Does he not know who I am? And, he told me to wash in that dirty Jordan River? There are many rivers better than this in Syria! It has to be a mistake! He should have come out here and prayed to his God and waved his arms around, or something. He should have healed me that way!”
Once again, it was a servant who became the voice of reason. “My father, if the prophet had told you to do something great, would you not have done it? How much more then, when he says to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’ (II Kings 5:13)?” I like how God uses “simple” things to humble the proud (like a servant or a muddy river). Naaman dipped seven times and came up as smooth as a baby’s bum. God honors obedience. It may not make sense, but it will make a difference.
So, how do we triumph in the midst of trial? Obey, even when it seems silly. A blessing waits on the other side.