Have you ever been completely and utterly humiliated? Maybe it was when you fell down in front of a crowd, or did something wrong and got called out publicly on it, or something like that. In any case, you probably wished that you could disappear on cue. You might have felt ashamed, small, insignificant, the object of unnecessary attention. The point is, it was not a pleasant feeling, you probably hung your head, you didn't want to look at anyone, maybe you even cried. It might even hurt to think about it now!
Let's look now at the story of Naaman, a man who was also humiliated. Naaman was the commander of the army of the king, a great man in his own right. But, he had this annoying skin condition, it was his one downfall (2 Kings 5:1). Fortunately for him, an Israelite servant girl in his house told him about this prophet who might be able to help him. Naaman, thinking in his own power, spoke to his king, the king of Aram, who sent the king of Israel a letter accompanied by all these wonderful gifts, asking for a cure (2 Kings 5:2-6). You can see just from this where Naaman's mindset was, focused on a material exchange, this favor for these riches, thinking that his power and influence would find him his cure. Boy, was he in for a surprise!
Naaman went over to Israel, the scripture says, with his horses and chariots to the home of Elisha the prophet. Elisha doesn't come out himself, he sends out a messenger to tell Naaman to go wash in the Jordan river seven times and he would be clean. Now the Jordan was not the cleanest or nicest of rivers, it was pretty commonplace actually, and a little dirty, but this wasn't the point. After all, Naaman made the point that there were rivers in Damascus that were much better (2 Kings 5:12) (and perhaps more suitable for a man of his esteem). Naaman was expecting some grand ceremony, he thought the prophet was going to come out and wave his hand and say some fancy words and miraculously he would be healed.
Naaman missed the point of the exercise entirely. His healing was not to come from the ceremony and spectacle of a God-driven act, it was to come from him humbling himself to obey the mandate given to him by God through Elisha. The Jordan river was a very public place, and if he dipped in it seven times, everyone would be sure to see him and know about his skin problem and the prophet's command. Naaman's skin problem was only an outward manifestation of something deeper, his pride-problem. That needed to be taken care of in order for God to make him whole again. Naaman's own servants brought this to light when they said to him "If the prophet had commanded that you do something difficult, would you not have done it?" (2 Kings 5: 13) But something physically or financially challenging wasn't what Naaman needed to do, because he would have been all too willing to do so. God challenged him in the area where he needed to be broken, his mind/spirit/heart. Naaman had to accept his own humanity and powerlessness in this healing, he had to be humble and obedient to God. He had to be humiliated.
So the next time you are totally embarrassed and you (want to) hang your head in shame, think about this: what can I learn from this experience? What is God teaching me? How is God being shown mighty in this situation? How can I let him be shown to be all-powerful?
Also remember that God's power can only be shown in contrast. He is extraordinary above the ordinary, but he can also be ordinary above the subordinary (yes, I just made that word up and the actual word is subordinate, but it wasn't as cute). Obedience and humility are vital in allowing God's power to be seen in the everyday and commonplace. God's light can only be seen shining through us when we turn the spotlight off ourselves.
Click here for the story of Naaman.
Be blessed and shine gloriously!