Summary: Pulpit drama monologue as if Naaman the Syrian were reporting his healing. God’s gifts are free, contrary to what Gehazi thought.
It’s incredible. Truly remarkable. That I should look this good, after all I have been through. Maybe you wouldn’t understand. You did not see what I looked like only yesterday. Leprosy! I had leprosy! Great scabs on my skin. Whitish blotches here and there. Horrible sores, everywhere. Misery!
Everyone stayed clear of me. They were afraid they might get the disease too. I heard them, believe me. I heard them whisper, “Naaman the captain, look at him now. He used to command thousands of soldiers, but Naaman cannot command leprosy to go away.” They thought that I did not hear them or feel their stares, but I did. I caught them looking at me and pitying me.
But just look at me now. Whole and complete. Cleansed! I must never fail to thank the God of Israel, who has done this, and Elisha His prophet, who helped me. Nor must I forget that in my pride I almost turned away from healing. I almost missed the blessing that the God of Israel wanted to give me. Blessed be His name, forever and ever! He is a cleansing God, and His gifts are freely given, to anyone! That I learned, the hard way. I almost missed the blessing.
Let me tell you my story. Let me tell you of my sickness and of my friends, of a little servant girl and of a faithful wife, a haughty king and a mighty prophet. And let me tell you, too, of a man who had everything already, but who didn’t even know it, and wanted more. Let me tell you how it all happened.
First, you should know that I am Naaman, the commander of the armies of Aram. Our king trusted me with all of our military efforts. We were mighty in battle. Under my leadership, we destroyed Edom, we smashed Moab, we made Judah shudder. The greatest of all our conquests was that of Israel. It is not just that the little kingdom with its capital in Samaria and its meddlesome monarch, Ahab, was so powerful. It is not even that we relished a chance to embarrass Ahab’s vicious queen, Jezebel. It is rather that we captured one little servant girl, who made all the difference, in the end.
One little servant girl? You say that is not much bounty for a costly and blood-letting battle? No, it didn’t seem worth it at the time. I just grabbed her out of a village in the north of Israel because I thought my wife might like to have a slave girl around. Little did I know that that one small no-name girl would be the path to everything I needed. Little did I see that the God of Israel, whom I supposed was no different from Aram’s god, Rimmon, was alive and would use this pretty bauble.
You see, I have told you that I had leprosy. It was horrible. I had tried everything to cure it. But nothing seemed to work. I scratched, I used ointments, I went to every doctor in Damascus. You would not believe some of the things they had me do. I scrubbed my arms with lye soap; but they just got red and raw and hurt beyond belief. I drank the potion of bitter roots, even though it felt as though it was burning up my throat on the way down, and all that got me was a belly churning like the waves of the ocean! I have tried everything, everything, I tell you, and nothing works.
My wife began to complain, on top of everything else. She insisted I try the king’s magician. What was it he suggested? Standing under the full moon for ten nights and days, smeared in lamb’s grease and wearing the skin of a freshly killed lion! What a bunch of nonsense! I’d almost rather be sick than to do that! I had to come up with something better than that! No, I told her I’d just take what I have and live with it before I’ll do something that stupid!
But my wife would not give up. They don’t give up easily, you know! I guess I made her miserable, with all my groaning and moaning. And, to tell the truth, I’m sure she did not appreciate being shunned by all the ladies at court. They were afraid she had leprosy too, and that if they so much as came close, they might get it. She groped around for any kind of answer. And found it, too, found it, in the advice of the little Israelite slave girl.
The girl told my wife that back home in Israel she knew a man who could heal. His name was Elisha. He was one of their God’s prophets. She claimed to have seen him heal all sorts of diseases. Even leprosy.