Do you like bullies? Of course not! No one does. There were some bullies picking on the Israelites. They made some of them work for them. This was wrong and unfair.
Do you think the Israelites would have liked to see something bad happen to their enemies? Would they be happy if they had problems?
You might think so, but there was one Israelite girl who didn’t feel that way at all. She had a soft heart that was filled with love.
She worked for a General named Naaman and his wife. Naaman had a terrible disease called leprosy. It made his skin hurt. The girl told Naaman’s wife that Naaman should go see the prophet Elisha. She said he did many miracles for God and could heal her husband.
Naaman was willing to try anything to make his skin better. Because he was an important general, he went straight to see the king of Israel. “I’m told you have someone here who can heal me!” Naaman barked at the king. “Let’s go! I’m waiting!”
Heal leprosy? The king didn’t know anyone who could do that. Not his advisors. Not his doctors. Not anyone. Maybe Naaman’s king was trying to pick a fight with him by asking him to do something that was impossible.
“Pardon me!” Elisha sent a message. “Did you forget about me-Elijah’s assistant? Have you forgotten that God has a prophet in Israel?”
The king had forgotten. He had a hard heart and he didn’t believe in God’s miracles. He only thought about what he and his army could do.
So Elisha sent Naaman a very simple instruction: “Go to the Jordan River and dip in it seven times. That’s all. Have a nice day!”
But just like the king of Israel, Naaman also had a very hard heart. “Excuse me!” he was so offended. “Elisha can’t even come and examine me? And all he tells me to do is to take a bath? I’ve taken lots of baths to make my skin better. Nothing helps!”
Naaman was so angry, he packed his bags to go home. How dare Elisha treat someone like him as if he were a regular person.
“Wait!” Naaman’s assistant called to him. “We came all the way here, can’t you at least try it? What could it hurt?”
Naaman didn’t believe that it could be that easy. In his land, people prayed to statues of pretend gods who they believed wanted them to give lots of money, or do really hard things in order to get anything from them. Naaman couldn’t understand God just asking him to believe in His power.
But Naaman gave it a try. He dipped his toes in the river, then walked to where it was up to his waist. “Okay,” he said to himself. “Here goes nothing!” He plunged under the cool water. “One, two, three, four, five, six…” When Naaman went down the seventh time, God healed his skin completely. He came up looking like a new person. And feeling like a new person.
Naaman was so happy, he realized that God was truly the only One he should worship. He offered Elisha money as a thank-you for healing him. But Elisha refused. God’s love is a free gift! You don’t need to buy it or earn it. You just need to believe in it.
“My heart belongs to God now,” Naaman told Elisha. And Naaman’s heart had changed. Even when he went back home, he only worshiped God from then on. God had healed Naaman on the outside, but more importantly, He had healed him on the inside, too.
Sometimes we think we can earn God’s love if we are good enough, but God wants us to come to Him with humble hearts. Just like Naaman’s yucky skin, our hearts are hard and yucky before we let Jesus in. Only God can give us gentle hearts.