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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Pride = Anxiety (Part 2)

Yesterday, I shared about Jacob & Esau and how reading that story with fresh eyes helped me see how it relates to my anxiety.

This past Sunday I was floored by reading the story of Naaman in church.

Seriously, it blows me away when something from the Old Testament relates so closely to my life. 

Naaman is found in the book of 2 Kings, chapter 5. 

Naaman was a Man's Man. He was a highly decorated soldier. 

The Bible says:

"Now Naaman was commander of the army of the king of Aram. He was a great man in the sight of his master and highly regarded, because through him the Lord had given victory to Aram. He was a valiant soldier, but..."

And the next part overshadows all the medals of honor, all the glorious battle wins, and all the accolades from superiors.

"...but he had leprosy."

Leprosy is a horrible disease. It can cause, among many things, loss of feeling in hands and feet, fingers and toes, softened bones that break very easily, the nose bone to degenerate and detach from the face, and open, running sores. Naaman, the mighty warrior, knew this was what lay ahead for him.

His wife's servant girl suggested that he go see Elisha, a prophet of God, to be healed. 

So, Naaman got a letter of recommendation from the king of Aram and traveled to see Elisha. 

When Naaman got to Elisha's door, Elisha sent a messenger to tell Naaman what to do to be healed: Go strip naked and dip in the Jordan River 7 times.

That's it. Easy Peazy.

To say Naaman was ticked is an under-statement.

Verse 11 says, "But Naaman went away angry..."

The Message version gives a better visual:

"Naaman lost his temper. He turned on his heel saying, 'I thought he'd personally come out and meet me, call on the name of God, wave his hand over the diseased spot, and get rid of the disease. The Damascus rivers, Abana and Pharpar are cleaner by far than any of the rivers in Israel. Why not bathe in them? I'd at least get clean.' He stomped off, mad as a hornet." (verses 11-12)

The NIV finishes verse 12 with, "So he turned and went off in a rage."

lost his temper...

stomped off...

mad as a hornet...

went off in a rage...

This sounds too familiar. I am embarrassed to admit how many times I've stomped off like a toddler, angry that things didn't go the way I wanted them to. 

He was so angry and walking at such a pace that his servants had to rush after him. Verse 13 says, "But his servants caught up with him and said, 'Father, if the prophet had asked you to do something hard and heroic, wouldn't you have done it? So why not this simple 'wash and be clean'?"

Bam!

Did that hit you between the eyes like it did me?

Naaman was used to entire cities falling at his feet in battle. 

He had accolades by the truck-load from superiors and noble persons.

His knee bowed to only one man on the planet and that was the king of Aram.

There was no battle he hadn't conquered. 

So, when Elisha could not even be bothered to come see this great man Naaman was offended. 

When Elisha dare suggest this warring giant dip himself in one of the filthiest rivers around...Naaman was incensed. 

Naaman even said, "I thought he'd personally come out and meet me, call on the name of God, wave his hand over the diseased spot, and get rid of the disease." 

You see, Naaman had a plan. He had a preconceived notion about how this was all going to go down. 

In his mind, Elisha would be wooed in his presence, like everyone else always was, and fall all over himself to heal Naaman. According to Naaman's plan, Elisha would majestically wave his hand over Naaman, say a prayer, and voila! All better.

Instead, Elisha zeroed right in, bulls-eye, on Naaman's pride; which was massive.

Being required to strip naked, removing his royal clothing and battle armor, and dip in a filthy river not once or twice, but seven times...unthinkable. And humiliating. 

His servants brought up a great point, though (and I wonder if they did so nervously). They pointed out that Naaman would have gladly done something "hard" or maybe something "showy" to be healed. Something that exemplified Naaman's strength and prowess.

But the idea of stripping down and completely humbling himself was too much.

Anybody feeling this with me?

Finally, after his servants appealed to him, he went down to the Jordan River and stripped naked. He walked into the water and dipped himself 7 times. 

And he was healed. 

His life was transformed in an instant. 

His once broken, oozing skin was "restored and became clean like that of a young boy" (verse 14b).

I am so much like Naaman.

I worry and pray and beg for a healing, but when God tells me what to do, I fight Him.

I say, "No, Lord, Not that. Heal me this way!"

"Don't make me strip down and humble myself in your sight and in man's sight, Lord. Don't let me look weak and frail, Lord."

But, like Naaman today and like Jacob yesterday, God requires that we humble ourselves. He tells us to strip ourselves of any pretense and any false bravado; any strength that comes from ourselves. 

"My grace is sufficient for you," says the Lord, "My power is made perfect in weakness."

What is holding you back today?

What causes you anger or anxiety or resentment?

Is there anything you're holding onto because you want to do it your way?

I am learning that when I give up my desire for control, that's when I feel most at peace and most confident. 

If I don't know where I'm going, be sure I will follow the guy with the map. 

Jesus has the map.

He's telling us that He's got this.

Whatever it is we're afraid of: loss, harm, sickness, injury, pain, humility...

We will never feel peace until we hand over control to the outcome to Him.

Pray with me?

Father, too often, we are so stuck in wanting to do things our own way. Please forgive us for doubting You. Please forgive us for going off the trail You have already blazed for us. Please give us confidence and trust in You. I pray that You will give peace and comfort to those going through loss. I pray that You will consume them with Your presence and Your peace. I pray that You will give them assurance that even though they don't know where they are going--or maybe even where they are--that You do. Letting go and letting You lead is the only way to arrive. Thank You so much for caring for us and for understanding that we, as humans, are so limited with our trust and understanding at times. In Jesus' name, Amen.

*Are you struggling with anxiety, worry or fear? Please feel free to reach out  to me by email mandypmommyof4 {at} yahoo {dot} com. I struggle with anxiety so badly, but as I have written this series, it as alleviated so much. God is teaching me that He is the answer for my anxiety. 

Sometimes professional intervention is necessary. There is no shame in seeking help. Click HERE for a list of resources. 

Post #1 is HERE.
Post #2 is HERE
Post #3 is HERE
Post #4 is HERE
Post #5 is HERE
Post #6 is HERE
Post #7 is HERE


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