Expectations. We all have them. Whether high or low, absurd or realistic, they often shape the way we see the world and those around us. But they can get us into trouble. When someone or something doesn’t live up to them, our reaction can be less than honorable. They can also cause us to miss out on enjoying something amazing. That’s what nearly happened to Naaman, with potentially devastating consequences.
In II Kings 5 we’re introduced to Naaman, the commander of the Syrian army. He was a great man who was highly respected, yet he suffered from leprosy: a highly contagious, potentially fatal, incurable skin disease. A young Jewish girl who had been taken from her homeland was a servant in his household. She told his wife about a prophet in Samaria who could heal him.
So Naaman gathered silver, gold, and other gifts and went with his servants to the prophet Elisha’s house. Elisha didn’t go outside to meet him. Instead, he sent a messenger to tell Naaman what to do to be cured: wash in the Jordan River seven times. What was Naaman’s reaction? Was he thrilled by the simple solution to his grave condition? Not exactly.
II Kings 5:11-12: But Naaman went away angry and said, "I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy. Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than any of the waters of Israel? Couldn't I wash in them and be cleansed?" So he turned and went off in a rage. (NIV)
Elisha’s way of handling the situation didn’t live up to Naaman’s expectations, so he was ready to walk away without being healed. Seriously? How ridiculous! Yet if we’re honest, I imagine we can see ourselves in this account. Maybe not with something so dramatic. But I fear each of us has allowed our expectations to ruin what could have been wonderful, or worsened something that really wasn’t a big deal, sometimes with long-lasting consequences.
Thankfully, Naaman had some people around him who respectfully pointed out how ludicrous and short-sighted he was being. Second Kings 5:13-14: "My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, 'Wash and be cleansed'!" So he went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, as the man of God had told him, and his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy. (NIV)
Let’s not be like Naaman. Although we may have expectations about a job, vacation, relationship, how a season or situation will work out, or anything else, let’s surrender them to God. It will make it so much easier to handle or appreciate however they play out.
Just something that’s keeping me humble along the way.