2 Kings 5:9-14 – “Then Naaman went with his horses and chariot, and he stood at the door of Elisha’s house. 10 And Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored to you, and you shall be clean.” 11 But Naaman became furious, and went away and said, “Indeed, I said to myself, ‘He will surely come out to me, and stand and call on the name of the LORD his God, and wave his hand over the place, and heal the leprosy.’ 12 Are not the Abanah and the 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 went away in a rage. 13 And his servants came near and spoke to him, and said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do something great, would you not have done it? How much more then, when he says to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?” 14 So he went down and dipped seven times in the Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God; and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.” NKJV
This account of Naaman the Syrian Commander is one of several in the Bible that reflects ‘unrealistic’ or ‘unfulfilled expectations’ and the problem therein. Naaman was suffering from leprosy which was a virtual sentence of death. His wife had a slave girl from Israel and she said to her Master’s wife, “If only my master were with the prophet who is in Samaria! For he would heal him of his leprosy.” Naaman’s wife relayed the information to Naaman which he reported to his master. The story begins with a letter sent to the king of Israel to heal Naaman.
Imagine, if you will, receiving a directive from a powerful enemy to do something you were not capable of doing. How would you view it? He considered it a provocation to war and was distraught. Elisha heard of the King of Israel’s hysteria and directed that he send Naaman to him. Naaman followed the king’s directive and his entourage proceeded to Elisha’s house and there the problem opens in a major way and reveals the “Problem of Human Expectations.”
Elisha told the Commander to go to the Jordan and dip himself seven times. Naaman was furious for he considered it an insult for someone of his stature to be instructed to do this. He expected pomp and ceremony with Elisha standing before the great general, waving his hands over the leprosy and healing him in a dramatic fashion that fit what he considered to be worthy of someone of his stature. He left furious and one of his servants took his life in his own hands and approached Naaman asking if Elisha had instructed him to do something great, difficult or monumental would he not have attempted it? As a result, Naaman realized he had nothing to lose and obeyed. The result was a complete cleansing of leprosy and a restoration of his flesh.
Had he allowed his ‘unrealistic’ and/or ‘unfulfilled expectations’ to rule he would have died in Syria a Leper! I wonder how often we fix in our minds how things should be and proceed to reject everything that does not fit that image and fulfill that expectation. Could it be that we fail to receive answers to our prayers because we ‘predetermine’ how we expect things to be and when they do not satisfy those expectations we reject all else?
Isaiah 55:9 reminds us that God’s ways are higher than ours and when we attempt to subrogate our ways over God’s ways we are doomed to the realm of ‘unfulfilled expectations.’ I see it in relationships, businesses, churches, and spiritually that ‘unrealized, unfulfilled and unreasonable expectations’ bring disappointment and failure. We do not have to live at that address for we can subject our expectations to God’s will and ways and allow the Holy Spirit to birth in us the purposes of God.
Demanding from others they meet our expectations can and often is both unrealistic and a catalyst to difficulty. I am human. You are human. We are flawed vessels and to expect perfection from flawed vessels is unrealistic. We need to be as the Naaman who went down into the Jordan, not the Naaman that drove off in a huff wounded because his expectations were not satisfied. I am learning more daily how Paul could say that he was content wherever he found himself. His expectations were God not his preconceived ideas of how things should be.
God bless you as you go through this day!