We all need a healing touch. There is something in each of our lives that needs healing. What problem are you trying to conceal? What hurt are you trying to cover up? What prevents you from getting close to other people? Where do you need to be touched? What is your leprosy?
Naaman was the “Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff” of his day. The military leader of one of the region’s most powerful nations, he was a definite candidate for Who’s Who in the World. He was the cream of the crop, lived among the upper crust, and caroused among the elite. The Bible says, “Naaman, commander of the army for the king of Aram, was a great man in his master’s sight and highly regarded because through him, the Lord had given victory to Aram. The man was a brave warrior . . .” (2 Kings 5:1). Did you hear those descriptive words? Don’t we all want people to use them of us? Commander. Great. Highly regarded. Victorious. Valiant. Here was a man that had power, position, and prestige. He was successful. He was a winner. He was wealthy. He was a hero. He was respected. He was admired. He was envied.
“But” – a three-letter conjunction. That small word changes everything.
Notice how first one concludes. “. . . but he had a skin disease” (2 Kings 5:1). He could think about all of his accomplishments; he could enjoy his power and position and prestige; he could admire his home and his wealth; but they all seemed to vanish as he stared into the mirror each day. Each time he looked at himself there was something looking back that defined his life. He was a leper, and nothing could change that fact.
We will all face that word at some point in our lives, “we have run tests BUT we are sorry to say that …” Are we ready to face the bad news of sickness, disease and death? It’s coming we must be ready.
Consider Christopher Reeve. Movie star. Wealthy. Handsome. Winner of awards and honors. Respected, loved, and admired by adoring fans. But. Once he was known as Superman with the power to melt steel, leap tall buildings, and fly into the heavens, but now an aluminum wheelchair, earthbound, defines his life. He is a paraplegic, and presently nothing can change that fact.
The fact is Naaman was a leper. Leprosy was the Coronavirus of Naaman’s day. Lepers were isolated and humiliated. They were outcasts – the original untouchables. They were forced to wear torn clothing and shout, “Unclean, unclean!” anytime they encountered an uninfected person. Leprosy was the most feared disease of the day. It was extremely contagious and, in many cases, incurable. In its worst forms, leprosy led to death. Granted, Naaman’s leprosy was probably in its infant stage or a mild form. He had concealed it, but now his clothing would not cover it up. While people treated him respectfully, now it’s very likely that nobody would touch him. The lack of touch would hurt Naaman deeply.
Like Naaman we, too, long for meaningful touch. Why is it that when I am away from my wife and child, I long for their embrace? Why is that we squeeze the widow’s hand at her husband’s funeral? Why is that we sympathetically pat the shoulder of the defeated athlete? Why do we bear hug a long-lost friend? Why is that we hold our babies? Touch brings comfort. Touch conveys acceptance. Touch promotes health. Touch imparts wholeness.
Can you imagine stumbling through life without being touched? Without someone holding your hand when you are lost? Without someone rubbing your back when it is sore? Without someone slapping you on the shoulder for a job well done? Without being embraced after being gone on a two-week business trip?
Naaman did not have to imagine. It was reality.
So what do we do? Where do we find help? Where do we go for healing? In a word, we go down: down in prayer, down in humility, down as we listen and seek advice from others.
Notice the contrasts in Naaman’s journey. Naaman, the commander-in-chief, finds direction through a captive servant – his wife’s slave. Naaman, the conqueror, finds help in a conquered nation – Israel. Naaman, the highly regarded man, learns of his treatment from a lowly prophet – Elisha. Naaman, the wealthy and valiant soldier, is cured in a dirty river – the Jordan.
What can we learn from this downward descent?
We too need humble people in our lives who can look past our: our job titles, our bank accounts, our cars, and our houses – and see our loneliness and our need and our hurt. We need people who will touch us at our point of need. We need people who will call our problems like they see them. We need people who see our blind spots. We need people in our lives who love us enough to not let us make stupid mistakes. (v. 2-3).
As I have looked deeper into this story, this slave girl, (besides God) is the hero of the story! She seemingly had nothing. She was taken from her family, her country, her comfort zone and put into slavery. She had little in earthly status but had great heavenly status! She was not angry, vengeful, bitter but faithful, helpful and hopeful! She could see God moving in this situation!
We don’t know the little girl’s name or much about her, but her brief word to her mistress brought healing and faith in God to a powerful Aramean captain. God had placed her for a purpose, and she was faithful. Where has God put you? No matter how humble or small your position, God can use you to spread his Word. Look for opportunities to tell others what God can do. There’s no telling who will hear your message!
This slave girl was not intimidated by Naaman’s power, position, or prestige. She saw his pain; called it by name, knew of a pain reliever and told Naaman where he could find help.
“If only my master were with the prophet who is in Samaria! For he would heal him of his leprosy.”
Her words were so convincing that the woman told her husband and he in turn informed the king. Never underestimate the power of a simple witness, for God can take words from the lips of a child and carry them to the ears of a king.
We also need places in our lives that will provide us with healing. (vv. 4-5)
The nation of Israel is present throughout the Scriptures as a metaphor for the church. The church is a healing place; a place that gives a caring touch in an uncaring world. A place that provides sanctuary – protection and comfort from those that would seek to assault, a place that extends a supportive and healing hand to those in trouble.
Israel was a safe place for Naaman. But, when Naaman first entered Israel he was in the right place, but speaking to the wrong person. He first went to the king of Israel, but the king could not help him. In fact, the king misunderstood his coming all together and thought Naaman was trying to pick a fight. We will look more at this story in the next post.
, Life Application Study Bible, (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale, 1988), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 574.