Summary: We often have preconceived ideas as to how God is going to do something for us. We have certain ways we want to see it happen, but God may have a different idea.
"God, This is the Way I Want It"
"But Naaman was wroth, and went away and said, Behold, I thought he will surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of the Lord his God, and strike his hand over the place, and recover the leper." II Kings 5:11
INTRODUCTION: In this scriptural account, Elisha was called upon to minister to Naaman, an influential man, a captain of the host of the king of Syria. He was a mighty man, proud and self sufficient, but he had a great need. He was considered terminal, for he had leprosy, a dread disease of the day. The pronouncement of leprosy in that day would be similar to the pronouncement day of terminal cancer or of AIDS.
When he heard of the faith of Elisha and miracles that God had performed, he was eager to seek out Elisha. The king of Syria sent a letter of introduction to the king of Israel, and Elisha agreed to see Naaman.
It is true that Naaman EXPECTED to be made well, but he had already pictured in his mind exactly how Elisha would approach him. He was a proud man, one who was used to having people recognize his importance. He expected things to happen in a certain way. Although he wanted healing, he wanted it to happen on his own terms--in a NICE way. He didn’t want to humble himself in order to receive from God. But God saw the pride in Naaman’s heart that would hinder him from receiving what he so desparately needed. God brought Naaman face to face with his pride and sense of self importance before allowing the healing to take place. "God, this is the way I want it!"
In what way can this scripture speak to us today? For the next few weeks I want to talk to you about healing--physical healing as well as emotional and spiritual healing. Inner healing from past hurts as well as healing from physical illnesses. Many times the healings we so desparately need don’t come. There are hindrances that we are often unaware of sometimes causing the delay. Probably Naaman was unaware of the pride and self sufficiency that stood in his way. Some things had to take place before he received a cure for the leprosy. I believe that some of these same attitudes are evident in us today just as they were back in Old Testament days. We, too, often hang on to our preconceived plan for God to work and say, "God, this is the way I want it!" What are some things we can learn from this scripture?
1. Preparing Our Hearts for Healing--Even though Naaman EXPECTED to be healed, his heart was really not prepared for it. He was a person who was very proud and self reliant. He was used to people catering to him and recognizing his importance, his position in society. He was used to "pulling strings to get what he wanted." He was used to taking "short cuts" by knowing the "right people."
Many of these influential people showed little respect for prophets at other times, but when they wanted something they could be very nice. This is an example of people "using" people to get what they wanted. That still goes on today every day. People using people to gett better grades in school, better jobs, children using parents to get what they want, friends using friends, people using God when they are in a pinch. But when the crisis is over, they don’t give these same people the time of day. Elisha, the prophet of God, saw that Naaman was this way too. He saw that Naaman was coming for the "gift" of healing but not the "giver" of healing. Sometimes we are exactly like this too even though we protest in horror--"Oh, No I’m not like that! No way."
Jeremiah 17:9 says, "The heart is deceitful above all things and desparately wicked. Who can know it?"
Had God immediately done as Naaman requested and Elisha had gone out to meet him putting him up on a pedestal, Naaman would have taken the gift of healing and gone on his merry way--never giving God the time of day. Some things had to occur in this proud man’s life. I believe that some things have to occur in our life before we receive from God. Not necessarily pride and self importance like Naaman had which blocked the way to his answer, but it can be a variety of things. The Holy Spirit can shine His spotlight on the motives and intents of our heart that we will know what it is that needs to be changed before we receive our answer.
I believe that God gave the prophet Elisha the insight as to how to deal with this particular person. One thing we know that Elisha did not do was to become an ENABLER for this already proud man. He didn’t play into this pattern. How do we know this?