'Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest (…) For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.’ Matthew 11:28,30
One must be suffering from a terrible disease oneself to understand what commander Naaman went through when he found he had leprosy. This meant the end of his life, not as a hero on the battlefield, but slowly wasting away, casted out and despised. But God’s compassion reaches further than only to His chosen people.
A slave girl from Israel told Naaman about the God of Israel, and he was so touched by it that he went to the – in his eyes – despicable land of Israel in the hope of being cured there. Naaman knew so little of God that he expected the king of Israel to heal him. After all, in those days kings were seen as representatives of the gods. But finally Naaman found Elisha, the man of God. At last, now it would happen!
What bitter disappointment was in store for Naaman. Instead of an impressive ritual - choral singing, the burning of incense, many priests in beautiful robes - only some minor servant of the prophet came to him and said, ‘Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed.’
This was not what Naaman came for! He was prepared to undergo a treatment and then critically wait and see if something would happen. But the God of Israel wanted him to obey in faith, without the guarantee that his obedience would be rewarded with recovery. Naaman was angry and disappointed, this was not what he had expected at all. But then God spoke through his own servants. 'My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, ‘Wash and be cleansed!'
So Naaman went down and dipped himself in the Jordan and became clean.