Our theme for this month: “Life on this side of the cross”
Our Bible verse for today: “But Naaman got angry and left, saying, ‘I was telling myself: He will surely come out, stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the skin disease.” 2 Kings 5:11 (CSB)
Our thought for today: “God normally works in low-key, subtle ways.”
There’s an Old Testament story which helps to illustrate the New Testament principle we were considering yesterday about the Christian life being “a long obedience in the same direction”. We find it in 2 Kings chapter 5 and it involved an army commander by the name of Naaman. Naaman was the commander of all the armies for the king of Aram, and he had leprosy. He was told there was a Jewish prophet in the land of Israel by the name of Elisha who performed amazing miracles. So Naaman received permission from the king to travel to Israel and to seek a miraculous healing from Elisha.
As 2 Kings 5:11 reveals, Naaman was expecting to experience a big dramatic miracle. Instead, Elisha didn’t even come out to meet the great General. He simply sent word via a messenger that Naaman was to go to the river, dip himself seven times, and he would be healed. But Naaman was thinking, “That’s it? He’s telling me to go take a bath? What kind of miracle is that?” He felt disrespected and disappointed and so he stomped away mad. Fortunately for him a servant convinced him to just do what the prophet said, and sure enough when he did, he was healed!
Oftentimes we expect to experience God in spectacular ways and if we don’t, we believe we haven’t experienced Him at all. But nothing could be further from the truth! Although God does sometimes work in sensational ways, more often He is subtle. I once knew a man who had advanced prostate cancer. It was confirmed three times. But after a time of intense group prayer over the cancer, suddenly it simply wasn’t there anymore. The doctors were stunned and couldn’t explain it. That was more than twenty years ago and the cancer never came back! It was a healing miracle and it was spectacular. But more often in such cases God uses medical science, applied slowly and progressively over time, to bring about healings like that. It’s a still from the hand of God, and it’s still a miracle, but it’s much more subtle and less dramatic than the cancer simply disappearing before any chemotherapy could even be applied.
Likewise, sometimes in a worship service we sense an overwhelming movement of the Spirit of God in our heart and the next thing we know, we’re kneeling at the altar with tears flowing down our cheeks. That’s powerful and it happens sometimes. But most worship experiences are not like that. More often our experience of God is a subtle sense of peace and joy as we encounter Him in the act of worship. It’s still an encounter with God, and it’s still nurturing and renewing and it’s pleasing to both Him and to us, but it’s not like those other more dramatic experiences.
God’s normal interaction with us is usually low-key. Part of our spiritual growth involves learning to recognize and appreciate God’s work in our lives even when it is quiet and subtle.