This is the follow up to my post #114, dated 15 July 2017, on the subject “Trust Matters”
Trust is defined as “the firm belief on the reliability, truth, ability or strength of someone or something” – google. There are, of course, minor difference of opinions among pundits on the interchangeability of words between trust, belief and faith. The importance of our trust in God is the main theme of many religions, worldwide.
As to the Bible, it is recorded and emphasized throughout from Genesis to Revelation. Had Adam and Eve simply trusted the Creator, a unique thought, there would have been no Fall with all its ugly consequences! However, Man’s trust in God, though weak, is great but God’s faithfulness is greater, filled with his amazing grace !
How does trust begin and grow ?
St. Paul wrote:
- So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17)
- The father of faith Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness (Romans 4:3)
The founding fathers of the United States of America wisely stamped on their dollar note “In God we Trust”, not on the dollar!
Let me attempt to illustrate the “process of trust”, for lack of a better term, (always remember God’s way are mysterious) as seen from the life of one Naaman, mentioned in the Old Testament.
I have purposely chosen Naaman for the following reasons. To start with, he was an ordinary man, not a well known Israelite, prophet, priest or king. Far from it. On the contrary, he was a pagan. This in itself should raise the admiration of God and the sure foundation of John 3:16. Besides it is noteworthy and commendable, if not surprising, for the Old Testament writers to give this extraordinary coverage for a pagan and for his trust in Jehovah! It is exciting!
This post is exclusively on Naaman and I will call it, in a general sense- A Step By Step Process of Trust. Let us get started.
Naaman was a valiant commander of the Syrian Army as well as the Syrian King Ben Hadad’s right hand man. Sadly he contracted leprosy. There was no cure – except, a God of power and grace in whom he can trust. But who and where is this God? How can Naaman find him to trust?
Surprisingly, for Naaman, this “spark of trust” did not come from a prophet or a seer or a local priest but from Jehovah (Holy Spirit) through an unthinkable, unheard source, a slave servant girl! Hallelujah!
This is all we know about her: “a captive out of the land of Israel, a little maid; and she waited on Naaman’s wife”. Did she preach “thunderously” as some may wrongly anticipate ? Nay, in simple soft, and if I may use the words “still small voice” ! I could not help but refer to one of my earlier posts, “the Making of a missionary” (see my blog in archives), a perfect picture of a literally the “sent one”.
Notice the admirable energy of trust. Trust spread from God Almighty through the Holy Spirit to a Prophet, to a servant girl, to Naaman’s wife and finally to the sufferer, Naaman himself. Trust helped him, yea persuaded him to take up the servant girl’s challenge. “God’s ways are mysterious his wonders to perform” – William Cowper.
Would you believe that God had a place even for the pagan king Ben Hadad !? The relationship between the Syrian kings and Israel (the divided kingdoms of Israel and Judah) was not kosher. In spite of the tensions, Ben Hadad give him due credit, said to Naaman “Go and I will send a letter unto the king of Israel. Today we call this a “diplomatic courier” between heads of states to facilitate a particular request. I recommend you read 2 Kings 5:1-14 to get the full impact, particularly verses 6- 7.
Naaman put feet to his trust. The first step is always important though difficult. When trust is aflame no one can stop it ! He undertook the long journey to a foreign country seeking an unfamiliar, unheard of healer, outside of his land and religion, a prophet by name Elisha. That in itself was trust supreme in action! Trust in God is a living force. Every great and precious achievement or victory starts with a few simple little steps of trust !
Trust confronts opposition and disappointments! When the caravan finally reached the prophet, Naaman received an awkward and discouraging reception. The prophet did not even offer the basic cordiality but simply sent a message ; “go and wash in Jordan river seven times and thy flesh shall come again to thee and thou shalt be clean”. Was that rude ? Did the prophet carry some prejudices subtle challenge to trust ? I will be interested to hear from you.
Opposition continues. It always does. Naaman was chagrined, annoyed, discouraged and ready to turn around saying the rivers back home were much better than Jordan for skinny dip! He almost missed it. This was Naaman’s trial of trust. Trust is not cheap, it is precious and has to be earned. Obstacles, even failures can be, sometimes, a blessing in disguise from God !
There is seldom a “lone ranger” in Christian work and mission, though at times one may painfully experience loneliness like Elijah under the Juniper tree or a cave or a Job a contemporary of Abraham. God always has someone ready to guide, not necessarily of one’s choosing to encourage and to give counsel. God has surprises in raising unlikely persons at the right place and at the right time, perhaps a “Samaritan” or even a non-believer!
Naaman got his best counsel from his “wise men”. No, they were not the Magi, the wise men from the East but happened to be his co-travelling attendants. Following advice from his servants was beautiful, simple, logical, wise and concise. They said: “if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? How much rather then when he saith to thee, wash and be clean?( 2 Kings 5:13) Naaman was invigorated and renewed his trust and headed towards Jordan river. Hallelujah!
Of course, there is more to Naaman’s physical healing; yes, his spiritual healing from Jehovah. God was teaching even in the Old Testament times, through his Holy Spirit that His mercies are for all who put their trust in God and not constrained to any person, tribe or nation.
Read Naaman’s remarkable and personal testimony: “now I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel”(2 Kings 5:15). This is the “gospel” in the Old Testament ! Let me add; “Was it not counted for him for righteousness”? Reminds me of an old hymn:
- “Simply trusting every day,
- Trusting through a stormy way;
- Even when my faith is small,
- Trusting Jesus, that is all.
- Trusting as the moments fly,
- Trusting as the days go by;
- Trusting Him whate’er befall,
- Trusting Jesus, that is all” (Edgar Stites, Ira Sankey)
I am singing while typing this post. You may wish to join the singing as you read along.
This is worth our attention. It is approximately the same period of time when the nation of Israel (divided kingdoms of Israel and Judah) has been horribly “non-trusting”, unfaithful and deplorably ungrateful to Jehovah their God. Historically, it is believed that Naaman lived during the time of Israel’s notorious King Ahab, his wicked queen Jezebel and their citizens- less seven thousand, (1 Kings 19:28). God willing I hope to write a post on “compare and contrast between Ahab and Naaman !”
Finally, and I kept the best wine for the last. Jesus was never in want for words of praise for those who TRUST, even outside of Israel; a habit which we all can gracefully emulate! Here are Jesus’ own words of praise to Naaman, the Syrian: “And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian” ( Luke 4:27). WOW !
By the way, the name Naaman means “pleasant” or pleasantness”.