Several times in my life, I have prayed for a miracle or a dramatic change in my life, and it felt like God said no. Nothing changed, and even now, as I write this, I am struggling with a situation that has me angry and frustrated. I can’t seem to get past it.
So I began to work on this post for you and realized, “Oh, you’re talking to me, God, aren’t you?” So this might have been just for me, but I think it might also be for you. It’s really about unanswered prayer and our expectations with God.
It is the story of a Syrian soldier, and it is also the story of a young girl, a Hebrew slave, in the household of that Syrian soldier. It’s in 2 Kings chapter 5. Naaman was the commander of the army of the King of Aram. (Also known as Syria) The King highly regarded Naaman because the Lord had given him great victories in battle. In 2 Kings Naaman is described as a valiant warrior.
At the peak of his military career, Naaman began to show early signs of leprosy, a hideous disease that causes nerve damage to the skin, eyes, and respiratory tract. The inability to feel pain often led to the loss of parts, such as fingers and toes, from repeated burns, injuries, and infections. Leprosy was not a death sentence, but its cause and means of transmission were unknown until the middle of the 20th Century, so lepers became outcasts in their communities.
Naaman would have been an outcast even from his family. His career as a soldier would end. Who would provide for his family, much less who would provide for him? It was a terrible and frightening situation, and it was hopeless. He was a valiant soldier on the battlefield, but valor could not save him from this.
2 Kings 5:2-3
Now bands of raiders from Aram had gone out and had taken captive a young girl from Israel, and she served Naaman’s wife. 3 She said to her mistress, “If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.”NIV
This girl sure had a lot of faith! She did not doubt that the prophet in Israel not only could but would heal a Syrian commander, an enemy soldier.
Desperate times call for desperate measures. Naaman set off with a contingent of his guard to Israel. Imagine Naaman’s humiliation when he finally located Elisha, and it was Elisha’s assistant, Gehazi, who answered the summons, refusing Naaman a personal audience with the prophet.
That, for Naaman, was the first insult. The second came when Gahazi relayed instructions that Naaman would be healed if he washed seven times in the Jordan River. How pointless and foolish this must have sounded to him.
2 Kings 5: 11-12NIV
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 all the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them and be cleansed?” So he turned and went off in a rage.
Thoroughly disgusted and insulted, Naaman turned for home. Fortunately, his men wisely convinced him that he ought to be willing to try anything to be healed. Why not at least try what Elisha said?
I suspect he went grudgingly, prepared to prove them wrong, prepared to say, “I told you so.” He dipped himself in the Jordan River seven times, and the seventh time, he came out cleansed of all signs of leprosy.
There are many lessons to be gleaned in the rest of this story, but what I want to focus on here is that Naaman wanted to be healed, but he wanted it his way.
Naaman had an expectation of God and how this whole process was supposed to work. I did too.
For thirty years, I had an undiagnosed illness. After years of frustration with the medical profession, I looked to God for a miracle. I went to healing services. I went to the altar, time and time again, begging God to heal me. Not a day went by that I did not ask God to heal me. I had as much faith as the Hebrew servant of Naaman’s wife. Every day I asked, “Why not now, Lord? Why not here? Why not today?”
I have always said it would have been faster, easier, and certainly a lot cheaper if God had just healed me at the altar. Heck, I would have dunked myself seven times in Jell-O if I thought it would heal me. God did not heal me at the altar. Eventually, he led me to a doctor who was able to diagnose my illness, and although incurable, it is treatable. For that much, I am deeply grateful to the doctor, and above all, to God.
God didn’t grant me a miracle healing because he had another plan for me. In 2020, when the world shut down for Covid, I wrote a book to encourage others who struggle with the question, “Why doesn’t God just heal me?” All my years of frustration and struggle taught me lessons that have encouraged and comforted the 1000 or more people who have purchased or were given my book.
This book is available in paper back, ebook and Audible on Amazon.com
Naaman’s story was one I had planned to use, but it didn’t make it onto the final manuscript. I wanted to include it because we are often disappointed with God when the root of our discouragement is wanting God to answer us the way we want him to answer, just like Naaman.
Being healed might not be your issue, but many of us want God to answer our prayers our way. We decide how we want this situation to work out, we determine the best outcome, and then ask God to make it so.
Paraphrasing James 4:2-3, you have not because you don’t ask God. We often overlook the second half of the verse that tells us that we have not because we ask according to our own desires. We are taught that when we ask for anything according to God’s will, he hears us. It does not say that God answers us the way we want it to happen.
When we start out telling God the solution and then persist in looking for the outcome we want, we take away from God all the love and wisdom only He can bring to your situation. Is what you want truly God’s will? Are you sure? Do you trust God to resolve an issue His way, or are you telling God what to do?
Let’s go back a step to that slave girl who told Namaan about Elisha. She probably begged God to release her from slavery and send her home. God said no. He used her right where she was when she sent Naaman to Elisha. God placed her and kept her there for that very moment and for his own divine will.
When Naaman was healed, he said, “Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel. From now on, I will never again offer burnt offerings or sacrifices to any other god except the LORD.” What’s more, he asked Elisha, “May the LORD pardon me in this one thing: When my master the king goes into the temple of the god Rimmon to worship there and leans on my arm, may the LORD pardon me when I bow, too.” Elisha agreed and told him to go in peace.
This unnamed servant girl had an impact on Naaman, his family, and all the men with him who witnessed this miracle.
We know what would make us happy. Do we really know what would make God happy? We see clearly how we want God to change the circumstances, to put things right for us, or we want God to change someone who is causing us distress. The truth is, sometimes, God has no intention of changing your circumstances or that other person. It might just be that what God wants to change is you!
As you go through your week and pray for the things that are most heavily on your heart, take note if you are adding to those prayers an expectation of exactly how you want God to answer you. I am right there with you, sisters. I am trying to change my prayers to prayers of surrender and trust and not asking God to change the circumstances but to work a change in me.
Now here’s the question you honestly have to ask yourself when it comes to prayer:
Does God exist to serve us, or do we exist to serve God?
Why Doesn’t God Just Heal Me
If you like what you’ve seen here, please consider picking up a copy of my book
Why Doesn’t God Just Heal Me – available on Amazon.com
ebook, paperback, and Audible
Having endured an undiagnosed illness for thirty years, the author prayed daily for healing and diligently searched the Bible to answer the questions we all ask when faith does not seem to be enough.
With a comprehensive and balanced application of scripture, the author addresses the topic of healing and answers the questions that test our faith.