I’m working on my teaching for Sunday.
One text is the story of Naaman, a general for Aram, one of the countries in tension with Israel in the time of Elisha. Naaman had a skin disease. An Israelite slave that served his wife said, “If you go to Israel, we have prophets that can heal things like that.” Naaman went to the King of Aram, who sent him with a note to the King of Israel saying, “I hear you can heal my best general.” The note didn’t say, though it was probably implied, “This is the general who has defeated you in battle several times. If you mess up, we’ll do it again.”
Eventually, Elisha gets involved. He sends a message to Naaman, telling him to dip his body in the Jordan River seven times. When he has done that, he will be healed. Naaman is annoyed. He expected respect, or at least a face to face conversation. He expected dramatic prayer. He got meaningless actions in a messy river.
It happens all the time.
We want things to be better. We define what better looks like. And we define the process for better. We assume that our success is a result of our hard work, that our healing will come because of our goodness, that our position in the world is because of our deserving, that we deserve respect.
Often, our healing will come through our humility. Miracles will happen through mundane steps. Relationships will be restored through simple daily acts of apology and trust-building and forgiveness. Through seeking simply to love one another.
Notice I didn’t say because of mundane steps. In the story of Naaman, there is no formula. No one else ever, as far as we read, is healed from skin disease by dipping themselves in the Jordan. Instead, the healing happened when Naaman did what Elisha said to do.