The Miracle of the Ordinary

19 Jul

“So Naaman came with his horses and chariots and stood at the door of Elisha’s house.  And Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, ‘Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored, and you shall be clean.’  But Naaman was angry and went away, saying, ‘Behold, I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call upon the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hands over the place and cure the leper.  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?’  So he turned and went away in a rage.”
-2 Kings 5:9-12

Naaman expected something fantastic.  Something extraordinary.  Instead, what he received was, at best, something ordinary.  He, a Syrian, came to the prophet of Israel expecting to be healed of his leprosy.  He expected to see the power and might of the God of Israel as the prophet called out to Him, waving his arms in concert with the moving of the Spirit.

Yet, Naaman fail to be healed in such an amazing way.  In fact, he didn’t even see the prophet, Elisha.  Rather, a servant of the prophet came out from the house and instructed Naaman as to what he needed to do.  What was it that he told Naaman to do?  He instructed this mighty leader from Syria to wash in the Jordan River seven times.  Hardly extraordinary.

At this point, the writer lets us know how angry Naaman is.  He is disappointed that he was not healed in a miraculous way, and his is insulted that the prophet did not even take the time to see him.  All he was given were instructions to bath himself in the Jordan River; a river that was subpar, at least according to Naaman.  We’re left scratching our heads, wondering why Elisha would do this, and how this would glorify God.

The answer comes several verses later when Naaman decides to try what the servant had told him to do.  2 Kings 5:14 says, “So he went down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God, and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.”  Just as was promised, Naaman was cleansed of his leprosy.  Immediately, Naaman returns to the house of Elisha and proclaims: Behold, I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel.

Much like Naaman, we, too, are waiting on God to do the extraordinary.  We want to be privy to an amazing experience of God when we come to church on Sunday. We want Him to show up.  Yet, as He did with Naaman, God often sends us away confused, frustrated, and seemingly disenfranchised.  Where was God?  Why didn’t He do something?

See, it is in the ordinary that God likes to work, because it is through the ordinary that God does miracles.  And this brings great glory and honor to Him.  He used the ordinary nature of bathing in a river to heal a man (a proud, non-Israelite man at that!).  He uses simple bread and wine to remind, refresh, and strengthen believers in the truths of the Gospel.  He uses simple water to represent the cleansing we have received in Christ, and to mark us out as members of the covenant community (the Church).  And He uses a book to communicate with us; to proclaim His character, His ways, His works, and His calling to His people.

He uses ordinary people like you and me to do the good works He has prepared for us, so that He might receive the greatest glory.  In all of these things, God does the miraculous.  I would contend that we all too often fail to recognize this because we fail to see the miraculous in the ordinary.  Yet this is the way God works.  He did it in the case of Naaman, and He does it today.  Below are a few questions for further thought:

How did you come to receive the Gospel in faith? Have you contemplated the miracle of your salvation?

Is it not amazing that God uses broken cisterns like you and me to do His work of proclamation and love in the world?

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