by Christopher Harbin

Astounded by God
Christopher B. Harbin
2 Kings 5:1-14; Psalm 30; Mark 1:40-45; 1 Cor 9:24-27

He worshipped a God of surprises--the Holy One of Israel who had healed Naaman. How well he knew Naaman’s story. Every Jew had heard it, of course. However, since becoming a leper, he had thought and meditated on the story far more than your average Jew. He had almost come to the conclusion that there was something wrong in the account. The Holy One had healed that obnoxious foreigner of his leprosy, but had seemingly never healed one of the chosen people. It was like God had wasted healing grace on an unworthy foreigner in the employ of that enemy king of Aram.

Why?! How could the Holy One be gracious to such unworthy objects of grace, while ignoring the plight of the people called by “The Name.” Wasn’t it clear that the reputation of the Holy One of Israel was at stake? How could this idolatrous foreigner and his king be the only ones to see the power of Israel’s God in rescuing one from leprosy? After all, Aram’s king had been spoiling for a fight. That would have been a grand occasion for the Holy One to route the foreign power with a military victory to speak of for generations, rather than stoop to heal this servant of leprosy. On the other hand, if leprosy were no big deal, why not heal the lepers in Israel, too?

Oh, he had heard the story of Naaman. He had mediated on it. He had looked at it from enough angles to make most folks dizzy. He had even wondered how he might become a servant to a foreign king to make himself worthy of God’s attention! His only conclusion was that God had not really been as concerned with Naaman, as with staving off war between Israel and Aram. Healing Naaman had been the lesser of the issues from God’s perspective. For this man, however, it was a consuming need.

Leprosy had come to define him. He was no longer the man he had been. He could no longer care for his wife and children. He was forced to live o ...

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