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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Monday, July 1, 2019              

Today’s Scripture Reading | 2 Kings 5:1–14

Naaman, 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. Now the Arameans on one of their raids had taken a young girl captive from the land of Israel, and she served Naaman’s wife. She said to her mistress, “If only my lord were with the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.” So Naaman went in and told his lord just what the girl from the land of Israel had said. And the king of Aram said, “Go then, and I will send along a letter to the king of Israel.” He went, taking with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold, and ten sets of garments. He brought the letter to the king of Israel, which read, “When this letter reaches you, know that I have sent to you my servant Naaman, that you may cure him of his leprosy.” When 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.” But 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.”

So Naaman came with his horses and chariots, and halted at the entrance of Elisha’s house. Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go, wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored and you shall be clean.” But 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! Are 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. But 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’?” So 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. (NRSV)

Life does not always have to be hard. Sometimes it is the simple things that make us whole. Maybe it is washing ourselves, maybe it is eating, maybe it is sleeping, maybe it is laughing. But it’s hard to trust the simple things. We can slip into thinking that our hard work and our careful preparations are going to save us. We can think that solutions to our problems have to be complex and dramatic and take a lot of work.

Naaman grew angry at the idea that he could influence his own healing by taking the simple step of washing himself in the river. He wanted something much more dramatic, and he wanted the extravagant attention of Elisha. Naaman wanted Elisha to come to him personally, to call out words of healing, to wave his hand over Naaman. He wanted a fuss and a hullabaloo.

Instead, Naaman got a message from a messenger. And Naaman got so upset by the non-personalized delivery that he didn’t really receive the message. He didn’t take it seriously, and he missed out on the wisdom and the healing possibilities.

Sometimes we are like Naaman. We want to be fussed over with a big hullabaloo. But maybe remembering the simple things and taking a small initiative can actually be very healing. What simple thing could you do today that might be healing?

God of wholeness, remind me of the simple things and help me to live into them. Open my ears to the messages you want to send me today. Amen.

Written by Nanette Sawyer, Associate Pastor for Discipleship and Small Group Ministry

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