Weekly Devotion & Prayer- July 4, 2022

"When National Pride Is A Problem"

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?’ (2 Kings 5:11-12) 

Sometimes we act in ways we regret. Sometimes we are not the people we would like to be. I wonder if Naaman the commander from Aram knows the feeling? I would certainly believe that he does.

Aram was a neighboring country to Israel, the Northern Kingdom. Aram was sometimes an ally to Israel. It was sometimes an enemy to Israel. It was at this time a very powerful nation. The King from Israel was nervous enough about this power from the North East. Naaman was a powerful commander from Aram, who was responsible for leading many troops that had expanded the reach of the Kingdom of Aram.

Naaman was a powerful person within Aram. He had done a lot. He was proud of his accomplishments. But he was also in need.

2 Kings 5:1-14 tells the story. Naaman discovered that he had leprosy. Leprosy was an incurable disease in that culture. No matter how strong, how powerful you were; leprosy, when it got bad enough, deprived you of every honor and status that you had won. It made you an outcast.

When news of hope came, that there was a prophet in Israel who could help, Naaman jumped on the chance as any desperate person would. And of course there is a protocol to follow. One king, just can’t send one of his main commanders into another country to get help without letting the king of that next country know about it. So when the message comes to the King of Israel, “here is my servant Naaman. I have sent him to you to heal him of his leprosy.”

The King of Israel immediately sees this as a way to pick a fight. He begins to lament wondering, “Am I God, that I can heal this man?”

But the prophet Elisha hears about all of this and says simply, “Send him to me.”

So, when Naaman comes, Elisha doesn’t even go out to greet him. He just sends the message, “Go wash in the River Jordan seven times.”

It sounds simple enough doesn’t it? But Naaman gets upset over how he is treated. He says, “I am not going to wash in the dirty, stinking Jordan. I can’t believe that this prophet didn’t even come out and talk with me himself. I don’t know why I even came here. I am going home.”

Pride! Naaman’s pride was getting in the way of his experiencing healing. When has your pride got in the way of your experiencing God’s love and grace? When have your actions not reflected God’s love and grace living through you?

On this day, when our nation is celebrating its birthday and our national pride is being shown all over the place, this scripture is an important reminder for me to remember to keep that national pride in check. We do live in a country that I love.

But we live together with other people of this world. When we let our pride, either as a nation or as individuals get to a place where we think we are more deserving of special treatment than others, then our pride, like Naaman’s becomes a problem. We are not better than others. We are called to live with others, in community.

When Naaman turned to leave in disgust, it was his servants who reminded him that this request was such a simple request. They had already traveled this far. Why didn’t he just wash in the Jordan. What would it hurt? What did he have to lose?

And Naaman listened. And he washed. And he was healed. Then he did a remarkable thing, he credited Elisha and the God of Israel for bringing healing to his life. This passage reminds me that not only can our pride get in the way of experiencing God, but when we are willing to place our pride aside, it can actually help us experience the healing and life that God wants to give us.

Like Elisha we are messengers of God and God’s love and healing for others. Even when we may not know it. Like Naaman God wants to make all things new, even us. Even now.

Sometimes our pride gets in the way. We may not be okay. But that is okay, because God is willing to redo us. Are you willing to let God re-do you?

Loving God, thank you for being with us and placing us right where we are. Give us the courage to love you more than anything and to put that love for you into our actions in this world. Help us to be and become the people you need at this time. In the hope that Jesus offers us, Amen