Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Tested by circumstances - 1

"Naaman comes to see Elisha"
Illustrator of Henry Davenport Northrop's
'Treasures of the Bible' - 1894
TODAY'S SPECIAL: 2 Kings 5:1-16

TO CHEW ON: "But Naaman became furious, and went away and said, 'Indeed, I said to myself, "He will surely come out to me, and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place and heal the leprosy."'" 2 Kings 5:12.

One of the reasons stories fascinate us is because they contain conflict that reveals character. In Part 1 of the Naaman story, we see five main players. Their reactions to the conflict of a big problem—Naaman's leprosy—is not only interesting but instructive.

The unnamed slave girl, captured in a raid by the Syrians, didn't keep the good news of Elisha's healing power to herself. She could have thought, It serves my captor right that he is sick. But no, she told her mistress that healing was possible.

Israel's king interpreted the Syrian king's letter on behalf of Naaman as a threat, seeing his request for healing not as a God-sent event but as a means of provoking war.

Naaman, the Syrian general, was quite willing to go for help. But he had expectations of how that help would come. Those expectations weren't met. Elisha didn't even talk to him in person. The cure, to bathe in the muddy Jordan River, wounded his pride even more. He was offended and set off for home in a huff.

Naaman's servants cared about the well being of their master and begged him to change his mind. They built up his faith and encouraged him to do what Elisha had said. They persuaded him to go to the Jordan where he took the seven-dip bath and received his healing.

Elisha the prophet had all the characteristics of someone living for God alone, his Audience of One. He boldly sent a message to the king, telling him to send Naaman to him. When Naaman came, the fact that Elisha sent his servant to speak to Naaman instead of going himself showed he was not a respecter of rank or wealth. Later, when Naaman wanted to reward him, he refused to take anything.

Do we see ourselves in any of these characters? What can we learn from them about facing our own conflicts or tests of circumstance?

1. God's goodness is for all—friends and enemies alike. The little servant girl teaches us to share God's goodness with our enemies as well as our friends.

2. God is in every circumstance. Israel's king missed that and as a result lived in suspicion and fear.

3. Pride can get in the way of receiving from God. Naaman expected a little respect and some healing theatrics. He would have missed his cure but for his servants.

4. Faith sometimes needs encouragement. Naaman's servants showed themselves loyal friends as they bolstered his faith when he had little to none.

5. Live for the Audience of One.  Elisha's concern with pleasing his Boss—God—meant that ego-stroking (his own or his client's) and personal advancement played no part.


PRAYER: Dear God, thank You that even bad circumstances can draw me closer to You. Help me to pass the circumstance tests I will face today. Amen.

MORE: The Audience of One
"The more one sees of life ... the more one feels, in order to keep from shipwreck, the necessity of steering by the Polar Star, i.e. in a word leave to God alone, and never pay attention to the favors or smiles of man; if He smiles on you, neither the smile or frown of men can affect you" - General Charles Gordon, quoted by Os Guinness in The Call.





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