Today's Lectionary Text
2 Kings 5:1-14
Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Aram, was a great man and in high favor with his master because by him the Lord had given victory to Aram. The man, though a mighty warrior, suffered from a skin disease. Now the Arameans on one of their raids had taken a young girl captive from the land of Israel, and she served Naaman’s wife. She said to her mistress, “If only my lord were with the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his skin disease.” So Naaman went in and told his lord just what the girl from the land of Israel had said. And the king of Aram said, “Go, then, and I will send along a letter to the king of Israel.”
He went, taking with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold, and ten sets of garments. He brought the letter to the king of Israel, which read, “When this letter reaches you, know that I have sent to you my servant Naaman, that you may cure him of his skin disease.” When the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his clothes and said, “Am I God, to give death or life, that this man sends word to me to cure a man of his skin disease? Just look and see how he is trying to pick a quarrel with me.”
But when Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes, he sent a message to the king, “Why have you torn your clothes? Let him come to me, that he may learn that there is a prophet in Israel.” So Naaman came with his horses and chariots and halted at the entrance of Elisha’s house. Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go, wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored, and you shall be clean.” But Naaman became angry and went away, saying, “I thought that for me he would surely come out and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God and would wave his hand over the spot and cure the skin disease! Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?” He turned and went away in a rage. But his servants approached and said to him, “Father, if the prophet had commanded you to do something difficult, would you not have done it? How much more, when all he said to you was, ‘Wash, and be clean’?” So he went down and immersed himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God; his flesh was restored like the flesh of a young boy, and he was clean.
How many times have we had that one little annoying task on our list that we put off because it’s not something we want to do, only to find when we do finally drag ourselves to take care of it, it took no time at all?
I confess I have a lot of these. Lots of tiny tasks I avoid until they can’t be avoided any longer and when I finally, finally convince myself it has to be done it takes so little time its frankly ridiculous. As prime examples in my life gathering up plastic bottles to take to recycling and sorting the mail pile. Ugh. One is arguably easier than the other. Put the bottles in a bag and load them in the back of the car. When I’m somewhere that has a recycling bin, I can just put them in. Easy peasy right? The mail is more complicated. Sorting through what’s junk mail (most of it these days), mail that needs to be dealt with and items that need to be filed. This takes a bit more time but not that much in the scheme of things.
I get where Naaman is coming from. Surely the instructions are too easy, surely something greater is required for his healing. Some grand ritual or sacrifice? The instructions must be a trick. But no, follow the instructions given by the prophet and his skin would be restored.
As an active member of the overthinker’s club I’m grateful there are examples of people like Naaman in the Bible. People just like me, with different problems but similar approaches. It’s a good reminder that times change but some things remain the same. It also helps connect the prophets and people of the past to our lives today.
I’m going to challenge myself this week to tackle those annoying tasks head on rather than putting them at the bottom of the list. Will you join me?
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Prayer for Reflection
Lord, thank you for the example of people like Naaman who connect the past to the present. Help us to remember that sometimes things aren’t always as complicated as we try to make them.
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