Summary: God is in control. He does what He does, when He does it for His glory.
Our story begins with a five star General of the armed forces of ancient Syria whose name was Naaman. His name means "delightful, pleasant, beautiful" and has the idea of someone who is "well formed." Just from what his name means, we can consider that Naaman grew up with the idea that he was God's gift to the world. This little nugget is a peek into his character that will become obvious a little later in our story. (2 Kings 5:1-19)
The irony is that even though Naaman was seemingly some kind of Adonis he had leprosy. There's no doubt that this skin disease had taken a toll on his looks. For a guy who grew up believing that he was the best looking guy on the planet this disease had to be torture not just physically, but, emotionally and psychologically, too.
The Biblical disease leprosy now known as Hansens disease, unlike the modern strain was considered contagious, spread by multiple skin contact and nose excretions. It was a slow moving disease that wasn’t fatal but was degenerative. Leprosy attacks the nervous system over a period of time and those inflicted with the disease lose all feeling in the affected areas. In 3rd world countries some lepers have experienced their fingers eaten by Rats in their sleep. It wasn't uncommon for a leper who had suffered for many years to lose appendages like, fingers, toes, and their nose.
So Naaman was a leper. And understandably he was freaking out about it. Not only was Naaman a handsome leper but he was also a General. A commander of a mighty army that served the king of Aram, where Syria is today. Naaman was a successful General. He won a lot of battles and he was a popular guy with the king for this reason. It didn't matter to the king that Naaman was a leper, as long as he kept beating up on his enemies. But Naaman was becoming more worried about his disease by the day.
On one of his raids into Israel Naaman had captured an Israelite girl and he gave her to his wife as a maid. It's possible, even likely, that on this raid the girls family, including her parents were killed or also captured and slaves in other homes. It would make sense that she would feel hateful and resentful. She probably read my blog on why it's destructive to hold a grudge...she reveals an attitude in captivity that was more like Daniel and his friends. One day she mentions to Naaman's wife that she knows of a prophet who could heal Naaman. This guy is so desperate for a cure that he takes the word of his captive slave girl and asks the king for a leave of absence.
Not only does the king grant Naaman his request but he loads him up with gifts worth about 30 million bucks to present to his healer, with a letter. But, Naaman's king misunderstands. He thinks that the king of Israel has the power to heal Naaman. When the king of Israel reads the letter that basically says, "please regard the 30 million dollars as a gift and heal my general. thank you." The king of Israel believes that Naaman's king wants to pick a fight. How can one king assume another king could heal his general of a disease? So now the king of Israel is freaking out, believing that Naaman is going to destroy him.
Elisha hears about the king of Israel's problem. Elisha is the one that the slave girl was referring to. So Elisha sends for Naaman. This guy just wants to be cured of the disease he doesn't care who does it, but, you have to remember that because of the way he's been raised and treated all his life, he's full of himself. Naaman believes that he's God's gift to the world. He's only second to the king in importance and value.
It must have been a real challenge to his ego to wait outside Elisha's house once he arrived. It seems Elisha took the same "how to make people wait 101" in med school that all doctors ace. Then adding to the insult of waiting outside some commoner's door, Elisha doesn't even bother to appear before the great Naaman himself. He sends his servant Gehazi with a message. He relays to Naaman that Elisha's instructions are simple. To be cured of his leprosy all he has to do is dip himself in the Jordan river seven times.
This is too much for such an important and beautiful man as Naaman. He flies into a rage, we can only imagine what he really said, but the Bible just records that he is really upset about taking a bath in a river as dirty and disgusting as the Jordan. So he takes his stuff and heads home. That's right. He's so upset about how he was treated that he would rather suffer from his disease than give a cure a chance.