We often miss what we need most because we refuse to see past the surface concerns of our lives. God will orchestrate events and allow pressures to come in order to expose the deeper issues and give us a clearer view of ourselves and our greatest need. Take the Old Testament character Naaman for instance (2 Kings 5:1-14).
Naaman was a great warrior and was held in high esteem, yet he suffered from leprosy. Hearing that a healing by the prophet Elisha might be possible, Naaman made a trip laden with riches to pay for a miracle. Upon arriving, Elisha sent a servant out with the message that Naaman should go wash seven times in the Jordan River, often-muddy and creek-like, for his healing.
“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 hand 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.” (vs. 11-12).
Naaman’s arrival was not met by a welcoming committee, no fanfare and no red carpet, but a secondhand message to go wash himself in a muddy river.
Naaman thought that surely the clear rivers born in mountain springs back in Syria would have served him better. Why had he made this trip? For insult? For ridicule? To be ignored? After Naaman made such a journey, the prophet did not even bother to step outside to greet him, much less heal him.
His fury revealed a deep-set pride and showed that his most obvious problem was not his greatest problem. Naaman’s greatest problem wasn’t a skin problem; it was a heart problem. With his titles, his renown, his wealth and his victories, dipping into the Jordan seemed far beneath his station. Pride leads to spiritual poverty; it makes small things cost too much. Naaman saw his diseased flesh as too good for muddy water. You will never see healing as long as you are too proud for the cure.
Naaman did go to the Jordan eventually and was healed completely (his skin was not only repaired, but God restored it to a more youthful state).
God dealt with the heart before the skin and the deep truth before the surface issue. If you read the remainder of the account, you find that the greatest result of this event was not the physical healing, but that Naaman became a follower of God. When he stepped from the river, his skin was restored and his heart was too.
What “muddy stream” is God calling you to step into? He is leading you there not to deal only with your most obvious concern, but his greatest concern for you. So obey God, even if it does not make sense. Obey, even if your Jordan is far from home, and you don’t understand how God will work. Obey God knowing that when you step out into your waters, you’ll be changed into who he has in mind.