When you hear the word blessing, thoughts of money, prominence, clothes, and other words related to abundance may come to your mind. Blessings can bring happiness, healing, and alleviate poverty. No matter what your status is, you’re probably expecting to receive a blessing soon. There’s nothing wrong with expecting a blessing because God wants you to be blessed. In fact, the Word of God says that … “The blessing of the Lord, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it (Proverbs 10:22). The word blessing also indicates God’s favor on your life.
Assessing the Blessing
When you think of a blessing, you might think of something new and shiny. You might also think about your preferences such as the color, shape, price, and size of the item. If it’s intangible, you might think about the level of abundance and frequency of the blessing such as love, peace, or health. You may even go as far as writing down a list of blessings like a child writing a letter to Santa. A timeline may also be added to your blessing list especially if you’ve received a “word” from a prophet, or someone else whom God has spoken through to encourage you.
As humans, we have a tendency to stay committed to our preferences and can become disappointed to settle for anything less than what we ask for. The anticipation of receiving what you want can be exciting. If anyone tries to discourage you from praying, hoping, and believing that you’re going to receive what you want, you’re likely to discourage them with more positivity. Additionally, if something similar to what you’ve been asking for presents itself, you will probably turn it down with the expecation that your “real” blessing will be arriving soon.
But wait a minute … what if the blessing you turned down was the blessing God had in store for you? If you think back over your life, you can probably recall situations or opportunities that presented themselves, but you turned those unassuming opportunities down because you felt like you deserved better. The blessing may have come in a very obscure package or did not appear to offer what you would consider as something that would be able to take you where you needed to go in your life, and you refused to be receptive to the benefits that it offered. You may also remember how you decided to choose another blessing because of its bright presentation, and you quickly learned that the old saying “all that glitters is not gold” was really true.
This happened when Jesus was born, lived, and after he died. Prophecy in the Bible described his coming (see Isaiah 7:14 and Matthew 1:23). Although a reigning Messiah was needed for God’s people, he was rejected as prophesied in Isaiah 53:3 … “He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
The word despise means to feel contempt or a deep repugnance for. Have you ever despised something you thought was beneath you?
Reconsider The Opportunity
The Old Testament describes a situation regarding a man named Naaman who had leprosy. He was the commander of the Syrian army. As a leader with leprosy, I imagine that he was well qualified for his position, but felt ashamed because of his physical condition. He was respected among the people and the King of Syria for his battlefield successes. However, despite his ability to lead and succeed in military conquests, he struggled with a private battle that he could not win. The shame of being unclean and the requirement to cover his shame was a daily chore he had to contend with.
The Bible does not provide details about the length of time Naaman had leprosy, or how he got it. However long or short his distress was, I’m sure every moment of discomfort seemed like a thousand years to him. You understand how it is. You may have enjoyed many years living without physical or emotional pain, then one horrible circumstance occurs that makes you forget what it felt like to be normal.
Naaman was not only strong in his military strategy, but he was also strong in his ability to withstand ridicule. During one of his army’s conquests of Israel, he captured a young girl and brought her back home to serve his wife. The young girl noticed his condition and offered Naaman’s wife advice about how a prophet in Samaria could heal Naaman (see 2 Kings 5:3). This good news was what he needed to hear.
Naaman received permission and a letter from the King of Syria to visit the King of Israel. When he arrived in Israel, the king was surprised because the letter suggested that he could heal Naaman. Naaman was presumptuous in his expectation that his healing would come from the king. The King of Syria likely thought the same. Naaman was perhaps too excited to hear the rest of the instructions relayed by one of his messengers, or it’s likely part of the instructions were omitted.
Although successful in his feats, this new healing meant that he could move around more freely without the pain associated with leprosy. Happiness would also come because he wouldn’t have to contend with the mental anguish of dealing with leprosy. Naaman’s gratefulness was shown when he took … “ten talents of silver, and six thousand pieces of gold, and ten changes of raiment.” (2 Kings 5:5).
Despite his efforts to show his gratitude to the man who could presumably provide his healing, his blissful journey came to a screeching halt when the King of Israel went into a state of bewilderment after reading the letter which requested a miracle he could not perform (see vs.7). When Elisha became aware of the king’s reaction whether by a messenger or from the Holy Spirit, he sent word for the king to send Naaman to him.
Prepared to greet Elisha with gifts he brought to the King of Israel, Naaman went eagerly to claim his blessing. However, before meeting Elisha, Naaman was greeted by Elisha’s messenger who relayed the instructions given by the prophet which was … “Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean ” (2 Kings 5:10).
Now you can imagine his response when he was told to go wash in a river that was already dirty. This instruction was absurd. Why would he tell a military captain and respected leader to degrade himself to such filth? Naaman also expected Elisha to come out and greet him. This silence could have been perceived as repugnance. Offended at the instruction, Naaman left because he expected to be treated with dignity after conducting a comparative analysis between the Jordan, Abana, and Pharpar rivers (see 2 Kings 5:12). Since they had worked closely with him, Naaman’s servants felt comfortable enough to reason with him to gain understanding regarding his rejection of the prophet’s instruction and to persuade him to reconsider the instruction. They asked him if Elisha had instructed him to do a great thing, would he have done it? (see vs.13).
When he recognized the truth in their verbal confrontation, he humbled himself and went to the Jordan River and followed the instructions. To his surprise, he was made clean. Afterwards, he went back to Elisha to show him the miracle that occurred. Naaman was now convinced that Elisha’s God was the only God in all the earth (see vs. 15).
This story is an example of how you can misjudge a blessing based on your previous experience or reception of what’s worthy. Expensive items can be appealing and impressive especially if those things promise promotion of ourselves and our lifestyles. However, you must be mindful to pay attention to the things that may not receive a lot of attention. Sometimes it’s those unpopular things, love relationships, business partnerships, and friendships that garner the best benefits.
When opportunities present themselves, take more time to assess the long term value not just the temporary satisfaction that can be provided. Let go of your preconceived notions of what’s worthy or not worthy of your time or your possession. Holding onto a superior mindset may cause you to suffer longer than you have to.
Stay blessed and receptive to what God has for you!