Sometimes you have to work to be healed. Sometimes it isn’t instant. Let us look at two stories – one from the Hebrew Bible, and one from the Gospels.
In John 9:1-7 we read about a man who was blind from birth. Jesus doesn’t just touch him or ask him if he believes that Jesus can heal him, like with other healings.
— As He was passing by, He saw a man blind from birth. 2 His disciples questioned Him: “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”3 “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” Jesus answered. “This came about so that God’s works might be displayed in him. 4 We must do the works of Him who sent Me while it is day. Night is coming when no one can work. 5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” 6 After He said these things He spit on the ground, made some mud from the saliva, and spread the mud on his eyes. 7 “Go,” He told him, “wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means “Sent”). So he left, washed, and came back seeing.
Jesus smeared mud made from nearby dirt and his own spit on the man’s eyes, and then the man has to go away to a specific pool to wash. One must assume that he had to have help to get to that pool because he was still blind at this point. He doesn’t question what he has to do, he just does it.
Then in the Hebrew Bible, we have this story. This is in 2 Kings 5:1-14
Naaman, commander of the army for the king of Aram, was a great man in his master’s sight and highly regarded because through him, the LORD had given victory to Aram. The man was a brave warrior, but he had a skin disease. 2 Aram had gone on raids and brought back from the land of Israel a young girl who served Naaman’s wife. 3 She said to her mistress, “If only my master would go to the prophet who is in Samaria, he would cure him of his skin disease.” 4 So Naaman went and told his master what the girl from the land of Israel had said.5 Therefore, the king of Aram said, “Go and I will send a letter with you to the king of Israel.” So he went and took with him 750 pounds of silver, 150 pounds of gold, and 10 changes of clothes. 6 He brought the letter to the king of Israel, and it read: When this letter comes to you, note that I have sent you my servant Naaman for you to cure him of his skin disease. 7 When the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his clothes and asked, “Am I God, killing and giving life that this man expects me to cure a man of his skin disease? Think it over and you will see that he is only picking a fight with me.” 8 When Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel tore his clothes, he sent a message to the king, “Why have you torn your clothes? Have him come to me, and he will know there is a prophet in Israel.” 9 So Naaman came with his horses and chariots and stood at the door of Elisha’s house. 10 Then Elisha sent him a messenger, who said, “Go wash seven times in the Jordan and your flesh will be restored and you will be clean.” 11 But Naaman got angry and left, saying, “I was telling myself: He will surely come out, stand and call on the name of Yahweh his God, and will wave his hand over the spot and cure the skin disease. 12 Aren’t 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 left in a rage. 13 But his servants approached and said to him, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more should you do it when he tells you, ‘Wash and be clean’?” 14 So Naaman went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, according to the command of the man of God. Then his skin was restored and became like the skin of a small boy, and he was clean.
Naaman was indignant that he wasn’t going to be healed the way he expected. He wanted a show. He thought he knew more about how to be a prophet of God than Elisha did!
How many times do we think we know how God is going to work? How many times do we pass over the true healing that only God can provide because it seems too simple, too easy?
We want to be healed of our addictions, but we aren’t willing to do the work involved in quitting. We want to be free of unhealthy relationships, but we aren’t willing to leave. We want so much, and God offers the way out freely, and we just don’t take it because it seems like it should be either easier or harder. But when God shows us the way out, we have to get up and walk out the door, and then keep walking. God does part of the work, and we have to do the rest.
God’s ways aren’t our ways, and we always forget that. This is why it is so helpful to have the Scriptures to tell us what to expect. They are our road map for finding God here in the wilderness of our lives.
(All translations are HCSB)