I spend a lot of time thinking about healing. Not only because I want more of it in my life, but also because I have experienced so much of it.
A story in John 9 stands out to me due to the unique way in which Jesus healed the blind man. The blind man is standing around and these men pass by him. The disciples start asking Jesus about him, and the blind man says nothing. After Jesus answers their question, he spits on the ground, mixes up a little mud, and wipes it on the blind man’s face.
If that had been me, and I had been blind as long as this man was, I probably would have been a little jaded. Maybe I would have heard about how others had been healed with just a word or a touch of his garment. Why does he have to smear mud on me? And in front of all those people too.
But that’s not what the blind man did. I wondered why he just stood there and let it happen. I realized that he wanted to be healed so badly, he didn’t care what was done, as long as it worked.
Then there was Naaman in 2 Kings 5. An army commander, “He was a great man in the sight of his master. . . . He was a valiant soldier, but he had leprosy.” Naaman heard about a prophet in Samaria with healing power so he heads out to find Elisha. When they are approaching from a distance, Elisha sends a messenger out to Naaman with these instructions for healing: “Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed.”
“Naaman went away angry.” He walked away from his healing. He didn’t like the way it was being done, Elisha didn’t come out to him personally, publicly heal him, and pronounce him clean. It wasn’t dramatic enough, special enough, for this “great man.”
Naaman even believes his idea of healing is better than Elisha’s. Aren’t there better rivers to wash in? “So he turned and went off in a rage.” Even Naaman’s servants knew better than he did, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it?” He received what his servants told him, humbled himself, surrendered his heart, and that day he was healed.
These two men bring two questions to mind. How badly do we want to be healed? A lot of times we think we want healing, but in our flesh what we would prefer is to feel good, to be comfortable, to not really need the healing at all.
The other question is: Are we willing to do whatever it takes to be healed? Like Naaman, sometimes when we realize what healing is going to cost us (pride? independence? security?) we have second thoughts. Jesus sacrificed everything to bring us the deepest, truest healing, and some of us wouldn’t even jump in a river for him.
The notes on these verses in my Bible are marked well. “The instruction is designed to demonstrate to Naaman that healing would come by the power of the God of Israel, but only if he obeyed the word of the Lord’s prophet. Naaman expected to be healed by the magical technique of the prophet rather than by the power of God operative in connection with his own obedient response to God’s word. As he obeyed God’s word, Naaman received the gift of God’s grace. Naaman is here a sign to disobedient Israel that God’s blessing is only found in the path of trustful obedience.”
May we be found willing to walk that path of trustful obedience.
Tammy will have an essay included in the forthcoming book Soul Bare: Raw Reflections on Being Human, being published in 2016 by Inter Varsity Press.