Over the last few posts, we have been studying the story of Naaman. Naaman was a national hero in Syria who was a great warrior and leader of the Syrian Army. Naaman had power, popularity, and the blessing of God. But he also had leprosy, a deadly skin disease. However, a young, unnamed slave girl from Israel, who served Naaman’s wife, courageously informed her master that a prophet existed in Israel who could heal Naaman.
Going to Get Healed
As a result of this girl’s heroic actions, Naaman went to his boss, the king of Syria, and informed him of the possibility of being healed. Upon hearing the report, the Syrian king immediately sent Naaman to Israel with a letter written to the king of Israel informing the king to heal Naaman of his leprosy.
When the Naaman and his royal entourage arrives in Israel, Naaman delivers the letter to the Israel king. Upon reading the Syrian king’s demand for him to heal Naaman, the king of Israel tore his clothes and declared, “I can’t cure him.” The king believed that the whole thing was a set-up to give a reason for Syria to invade Israel.
Unlike the little slave girl, the King of Israel did not even consider that the God of Israel could heal him or to point Naaman to the prophet. The king forgot who he was – that he was part of the nation of Israel, God’s chosen people – and that he served a mighty God.
Trials, pain, and suffering make us question. The king of Israel asked, “Am I God, that I can give life and take it away? Why is this man asking me to heal someone with leprosy?” (2 Kings 5:7, NLT). David questioned, “O Lord, why do you stand so far away? Why do you hide when I am in trouble?” (Psalm 10:1, NLT).
It is fine to ask questions amid hard times; yet when we encounter what seems to be an impossible situation or heart-crushing events, we must not forget who we are and the mighty God we follow.
We must remember who we are (our identity in Christ) and the character of Jesus.
Sent to the Prophet’s House
When the prophet Elisha heard what had taken place, he intervened. Elisha sent a message to the Israelite king to have Naaman come to his house.
The Scriptures tells us what happens next, “So Naaman came with his horses and chariots and stood at the door of Elisha’s house. And Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored, and you shall be clean.” But Naaman was angry and went away, saying, “Behold, I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call upon the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper. 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?” So he turned and went away in a rage.” (2 Kings 5:9–12)
We need to make sure we capture in our imaginations the incredible scene we just read. Naaman arrives at Elisha’s house with a parade of horses, chariots, and attendants with all the pomp and spectacle of a national hero. Naaman dismounts his horse, walks up to Elijah’s house, and knocks on the door. The General of the Armies of Syria stands at Elisha’s door waiting for Elisha to greet him and heal him.
Instead, Elisha sends a simple messenger to Naaman with instructions for what to do. The messenger informs Naaman that to be healed, all he needs to do is go down to the Jorden river and dip himself seven times in its water. Rather than rushing to the river with anticipation of healing, Naaman walks off in a rage.
Why was Naaman so angry?
The Curse of Expectations
First of all, Naaman came to the prophet of God with certain expectations. Notice again what Naaman said, “Behold, I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call upon the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper” (2 Kings 5:11).
Naaman expected a particular response:
- He expected the prophet of God would come out himself and greet him.
- He expected that the prophet of God would do all the work and cure him. Naaman had assumed that Elisha would stand next to him and call upon the name of His God, and he would be healed.
- He expected that there would be a big “show” or “performance” by the prophet for everyone to see.
Naaman was angry, not because he couldn’t be cured of his leprosy but because of his expectations of how the healing would transpire were not being met. He expected God to perform a certain way. Naaman reason that If all he had to do was take a bath, then he could have remained in Syria and washed in cleaner waters than the dirty Jordan River.
Unfulfilled expectations will lead to disappointment and anger.
Have you ever been disappointed with God because he worked in a way contrary to how you thought he should handle a particular situation?
Has God ever failed to meet your expectations? How do you respond to your unfulfilled expectations of God?
Luke Norsworthy wrote, “When broken expectations fracture the unity in our relationship with God, the only way back to unity with God is through facing those disappointments.”
Some Final Thoughts to Ponder
Maybe following Jesus isn’t about trying to force God to match our expectations for what God should be and what he should do. Aren’t we supposed to follow him, rather than him follow our expectations? Perhaps part of denying ourselves involves us laying down our expectations. I wonder, can you pick up your cross when you are also carrying your expectations?