Devotional Week 38 Tuesday
“Then He said, ‘Let Me go, for day is breaking.’ But Jacob said, ‘I will not let You go unless You declare a blessing upon me’…And the angel of God declared a blessing on Jacob there.”
Genesis 32: 26, 29
“Jacob got the victory and the blessing not by wrestling, but by clinging…we will not get victory in prayer until we too cease our struggling, giving up our own will, and throw our arms about our Father’s neck in clinging faith. What can puny human strength take by force out of the hand of Omnipotence? Can we wrest blessing by force from God? It is never the violence of willfulness that prevails with God. It is the might of clinging faith that gets the blessing and the victories.”
J. R. Miller
Today’s Study Text:
“But he was a leper.”
II Kings 5: 1
“The One Who Satisfies Our Needs”
“There is only one being who can satisfy the last aching abyss of the human heart, and that is the Lord Jesus Christ.”
What in my life has left me aching, needing my Father in heaven to heal?
“O God, never suffer us to think that we can stand by ourselves, and not need Thee.”
“I need nothing but God, and to lose myself in the heart of Jesus.”
Margaret Mary Alacoque
We begin our study in II Kings, Chapter 5, with the groundwork laid by the fact that we serve a sovereign God – ruler of the universe. A heavenly Father who we can rely upon in every moment of our life – even when God appears to be completely hidden from our point of view and God’s ways are hard for us to understand.
As II Kings 5: 1 tells us, the “Lord had given deliverance unto Syria” by the hand of Namaan, the captain of the Syrian army. But as if the author of II Kings wanted to use a brightly colored magic marker, additionally the point is underscored that Namaan was a “mighty man of valour.” The phrase “mighty man of valour” rung a bell with me. I did some searching in the Old Testament where I found these words used repeatedly, from Joshua to Nehemiah. Whenever men of God, who were brave warriors were talked about, we find the expression, “men of valour.”
However, there is one other specific text, found in Judges 6: 11,12, when an angel of the Lord came down to call Gideon to take up arms on behalf of God’s people and destroy the Midianites. In Judges 6: 12, the angel assures Gideon, “The Lord is with thee, thou mighty man of valour,” or as this is translated in the Hebrew, “The Lord is with you, thou champion and giant force among men.”
Now let’s take a look at how this very same phrase is applied to Namaan. II Kings 5: 1 tells us that Namaan was held in esteem by the king of Syria but this isn’t where the admiration for Namaan stopped. He was also honored by God, just as Gideon was, for he was called a giant among men – a force to be reckoned with. A champion for certain.
With this kind of exalted treatment being showered down upon you, it gives us an idea that it would have been quite natural for an individual to have a good large sense of self-worth. And I’d like to be quick to add, that as the leader of armies of men, it would have been a good thing for Namaan to have a strong sense of purpose and courage. No problem there. But, as we will learn, our egos can sometimes get in our way. In Namaan’s story, though, all of a sudden, something rears its ugly head. In the words of the Bible, yes Namaan was admired for certain he was valiant. And above all, God gave him victory in battle. But here’s the rub – the problem that threatened every great thing that made Namaan the man of the hour. We find out that this valiant giant of a man had leprosy, a disease that at that time was not only incurable, but was also thought to be easily passed on to others. Years later, at the time of Jesus, lepers were “colonized” having to be separate from the lives of others in society. The Bible also tells of the “separation” which was what the punishment was for Miriam, Moses’ sister when she contracted this disease. Obviously, the disease of leprosy had huge implications for Namaan, not only personally, but professionally as well. But there’s another way to look at Namaan’s leprosy.
Author John Harper makes a rather interesting observation which I think applies to the life of all of us in one way or another. Here’s what he had to say: “Sometimes the Lord disturbs the waters before sending His healing angel.” I want to be clear, in Jesus ministry on earth, one of the delusional religious theories that He completely destroyed as He taught was that illness was caused as punishment for sin, not only sin in the suffering person, but potentially in their family.
An example which lies close to home in our family is that my husband Jim’s great-grandmother and grandmother both died of breast cancer. Then, not only did his mother get breast cancer but she also had lung cancer, even when she never smoked a day in her entire life. What’s more, Jim’s sister, who I went to high school with, died of pancreatic cancer in her forties. At the time of Jesus, these women would certainly be deemed great sinners – and it would be observed as “generational sin” as well. Now, years later, we find that there is a gene that can cause a disease like breast cancer to follow generational lines. What a burden Jesus lifted off the shoulders of individuals who may have felt that some sin in their life was the cause of the disease their child suffered from. But, the quote that sometimes God disturbs the waters before the healing arrives leads me down a much different pathway and it is one that certainly is apparent in the life of Namaan.
As an untreatable disease in the time of Namaan, leprosy was thought to be extremely contagious, so how could a man like Namaan continue to operate as a “giant man of valour”? He couldn’t! And so, it became the deep “need,” caused by leprosy, that drove Namaan to seek the God of heaven and earth. Not just for a victory on the battlefield, but for a healing in his life.
This fact got me to reviewing my own life and thinking about the times when some “personal need” drove me closer toward my heavenly Father. The Apostle Paul referred to a “need” in his life that he called a “thorn.” Something which reminded him frequently of his dependency on God.
The English poet, Siegfried Sassoon so beautifully penned these words which describe a “heart’s need” that opens, what he calls a “flower within,” us which exists to help us find what is lacking in our lives:
“Heart’s miracle of inward light,
What powers unknown have sown your seed
And your perfection freed?
O flower within me wondrous white,
I know you only as my need
And my unsealed light.”
It was this need in the life of a man of valour which tomorrow we will find, opened the window to unsealed light which brought the true “Light of Life” into this Syrian warrior’s life and his home.
The Brazilian theologian, Leonardo Boff writes that “God really does lie hidden and unknown beneath every person in need.” Just think about the need that lay hidden in the heart of the champion Namaan, who found the longing of his heart uncovered by a disease which brought him into contact with God’s servant Elisha.
Maybe, today God is moving upon the water’s of your life, as He works to bring healing to a need that has afflicted your life for years - a need that you may even feel is incurable. This may be an affliction that you fear could destroy your life and all you have worked so hard to build. And no matter how strong you may appear to be to others, this insidious need has the potential to take you down.
I have some wonderful news. Jesus offers to satisfy your every need and mine. In the words by Miss Clara Tear Williams to one of my favorite old-time hymns:
“All my life long I had panted
For a draught from some cool spring
That I hoped would quench the burning
Of the thirst I felt within.
Feeding on the husks around me,
Till my strength was almost gone,
Longed my soul for something better,
Only still to hunger on.
Poor I was, and sought for riches,
Something that would satisfy,
But the dust I gathered round me
Only mocked my soul’s sad cry.
Hallelujah! I have found Him
Whom my soul so long has craved!
Jesus satisfies my longings,
Through His life I now am saved.”
You and I can be like Namaan – valiant and a champion. A warrior of renown and admired by an earthly king – but it’s not enough. The leprosy in our soul just eats away at the fiber of our being. Thankfully, our heavenly Father is the only “One” that can bring us the wholeness we long for. In the words of Carolyn Gillette, “O God of life, your healing touch brings wholeness and salvation! In you…we become a new creation.”
“O for a heart to praise my God,
A heart from sin set free;
A heart that always feels Thy blood
So freely shed for me;
A heart resigned, submissive, meek,
My great Redeemer’s throne,
Where only Christ is heard to speak,
Where Jesus reigns alone.”
A Prayer of Satisfaction
“Jesus, as I draw near to You and lift my voice to You this day there is renewal in my spirit. I recognize that my joy and satisfaction will not be determined by the events of this day, but by the state of my heart. When human love is fleeting and disappointments arise help me to look beyond my present circumstances. As the Psalmist wrote, ‘Earth has nothing I desire besides You!’ I look to You for the fulfillment to meet my every longing and need. Thank You that Your joy does not last for only a season, but for a lifetime on earth and an eternity in heaven.” Amen
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
P.S. Over the past few weeks, because of the generous outpouring of gifts from God’s “Garden daughters and sons,” we were able to complete our current projects and send 10,000 bookmarks to Papua New Guinea. We also sent 500 bookmarks in the Hindi language to Northern India. Thank you. Now we are undertaking the challenge of sending bookmarks to Russia, Lithuania and Brazil and to several domestic abuse shelters here in the United States.