“ I WAS ANGRY, BUT…”
Everything was going great for me till recently. Just as I planned, I had progressed rapidly from being a young captain to become the Commander of the Army. But just a few days back I realized that I caught the dreaded disease Leprosy! I was devastated! I was moping about my future now. But my reverie was interrupted by the sweet voice of my wife.
“Dear Naaman, she said “ the servant girl you got for me recently tells me that back at home in Israel is a prophet who can heal your leprosy." Why don’t you go there and get healed?”
“ Surely I will dear wife”, I said as I ran to the King to report.
He was very kind. He told me to go at once to meet the king of Israel with a letter.
I set out with my servants and a few gifts of gold, silver and clothes, in case I do get healed. The king of Israel appeared shocked to get a letter from my king asking for my healing. He tore his robes and cried, “ Am I God to kill and make alive, that this king sends a man to be healed? See how he wants to quarrel with me.”
I was disappointed. “Looks like all my journey was a waste”, I thought. But there was a message from a prophet. I was to go and see the prophet, the message said.
So, I went up with all my horses in my comfortable chariot. We stood at the door of the house of Elisha, the prophet of God as they call him. I now thought that he would come down in splendour and heal me. But again, I was disappointed. Instead, he sent a servant with a message. “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh will be restored to you, and you will be rid of leprosy.”
This was just too much for me. My eyes became red shot. My body shuddered in fury. This prophet, a mere subject of a vassal king, had the temerity to do this to me. Me, the Supreme Commander of the Army of Syria, the world superpower? What audacity? It seems I should go and wash in the tiny stream they call the Jordan! Abana and Pharphar are such magnificent rivers of Syria. Couldn’t I have washed in them and be healed? I imagined that this so called prophet would come out and wave his hands over me to make my leprosy vanish. But what is this? He didn’t even deign to see me and why should I do what he says?
I whirled around in fury and ordered my servants to travel back. One of them, a wise old man I respect, counseled me. “ Dear Master, if the prophet had asked you to do something great, you would have taken pains to do it. Why not simply wash and be clean? May be you will be made clean?”
His soft words threw cold water on the boiling of my blood. I could see sense in what he said. So, I went to Jordan. After seven dips in the river, I felt whole! I was healed! I just couldn’t believe it. My skin shone like a newborn babe’s!
This was indeed a miracle of God! Even the great king of Syria whom I serve could order my healing. But this God of Elisha healed me today! I was filled with awe and thanksgiving!
Back at his house, I confessed to Elisha. “ I now know Sir, that there is no God in all the earth except here in Israel. Please take a gift from me.” Elisha refused to take any gift. I asked him for some earth from there to be carted back to Syria so that I can offer sacrifices to the God of Israel. Then I remembered and asked. “ When I go with the king into the temple of Rimmon, I have to bow down as my king bows before Rimmon. I hope the Lord wont mind it.”
So, we left in peace indeed and journeyed back home.
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“A gentle answer turns away wrath…” Proverbs 15:1a (NIV)
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