If I'm being completely honest, it's not very often that sermons bounce around in my head for weeks after I hear them.
But every once in awhile, I'll listen to one and it will touch me on a deeper level.
That happened recently, around the beginning of September, and I have been wrestling with sharing it here on the blog.
Here's my reluctancy with it: I don't want it to sound like I'm downplaying pain, suffering, struggle, loss, etc. I'm really not. So will you just know that from this point on? Thanks.
So, I have the pleasure of attending a wonderful church here in Raleigh. It's called The Summit. Justin and I have been attending for years. I really love it and love the people I've met through it.
JD Greear is usually the one speaking from the stage on any given Sunday, and on this particular Sunday, he was talking about the story of Naaman. You can read this story in 2 Kings 5:1-18.
Kate Notes (another type of Cliff Notes):
-Naaman had leprosy. Bad. He was suffering.
-A little girl told him that there is a prophet in Samaria that could cure him.
-So he went, in search of this prophet, and through a series of events, Elisha (the prophet) heard that this man was coming in order to be healed.
-Elisha knew, from the Lord, that this man was coming for a greater purpose than simply to be healed from his leprosy.
-So Naaman shows up at Elisha's home, and Elisha sends out a servant to tell him to "Go wash in the Jordan seven times, your flesh shall be restored and you shall be clean".
-Naaman was frustrated and annoyed that Elisha wouldn't even come out to speak to him, -but he went to the Jordan anyway. He also thought he'd be going to a cleaner, larger river than the Jordan, so that upset him as well.
-So Naaman dips himself in the river 1 time. 2 times. All the way up to 7 times, and on the seventh time, as he rose out from the water, he was healed. His skin was pure.
-Naaman heads back to Elisha's house, and Elisha steps out to greet him for the first time. (remember he sent his servant out to talk to him earlier)
--and this is where the whole point of the story hits me. . .
You would guess that Naaman would thank Elisha, perhaps fall on his knees and cry with gratitude for "curing" him from the leprosy.
The first words that come out of Naaman's mouth are "Behold, I know that there is no God in all the earth but Israel."
He didn't thank Elisha. He didn't even mention the fact that he was cured. It's almost as if he didn't care about being healthy at all since it was so minimal compared to his newfound knowledge of the Lord.
Naaman was so overcome by sheer knowledge of the Lord that he completely moved on from the reason that he went to Samaria in the first place.
I looked back at a tough chapter of my life, which was the struggle to get pregnant. About half way into what would end up being 14 months of trying, I couldn't handle the stress of it anymore. I broke.
I relinquished control to the Lord. I trusted Him, His plan (whatever it may be) and re-learned how to overcome worry and anxiety.
So, in a way I was thankful to have experienced such a trying time. Because I was able to see God so clearly in that situation. That doesn't make it less difficult, or even pleasurable. But it was kind of like how I imagine Naaman felt.
Solely focused on this one mission (for himself) and suddenly, through God's provision, solely focused on the Lord -- forgetting the original trial to begin with.
Sometimes it's not about the pain or the struggle. It's about God shaping us through experiences in life so we may better understand Him. And I'll say it again, that doesn't discredit the pain and suffering that can go along with trials. It just means that it can be for something greater that we may not understand.
I've been overwhelmed with how God has used Justin and my struggle to get pregnant in order to connect me with other women on a whole new level. While I dislike the circumstances that bring me and these other women together (because it's hard), there is a large part of me that is so so thankful that I can talk with them and process through things on a deep, relational level.
It's truly been a gift.
I don't believe that we go through things in life purely for our own experiences. I think we were created to be in community, and part of that involves sharing your story, whatever it may be, in order to help someone else.
So I'll think of this story of Naaman and Elisha from time to time. And I'll remind myself that it's not always about the events or the circumstances in my life, hard or joyful. It's about how God is shaping me, or showing me more of Him through them.