I’m thankful for common means that accomplish uncommon ends.

by Bethany

This week, as if I were sitting around the Thanksgiving dinner table, I’m daily saying, “I am thankful for …”

Relevant Text: 2 Kings 5:13  |  Full Text: 2 Kings 5:1-6:23

Mighty | When was the last time you walked through a sea that parted before your very eyes? [1] Have you witnessed a man who was dead for four days be resurrected by a mere word? [2] Have you seen soaked wood be consumed in flames? [3] I’m guessing that none of us have experienced these things. Yet, although we want God to work miraculously and powerfully for us as He did for our ancestors, I’m thankful that He works through ordinary and common means as well.

Healing | Elisha heard that Naaman was desperate to cure his leprosy. So he sent a message to Naaman: “Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed” [4]. But Naaman wanted something spectacular: “I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the LORD his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy” [5]. So he “went off in a rage” [6]. Yet, his servants spoke wisely: “My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, ‘Wash and be cleansed!’” [7]. So he washed himself in the river and he was made clean. Then, he proclaimed, “Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel” [8].

Common | God doesn’t always use great and mighty means to accomplish His purposes – sometimes He speaks in whispers [9] or heals in rivers. Sometimes He even works in slow and gradual steps. For example, when a blind man was brought to Jesus to be healed, Jesus laid his hands on him and asked, “Do you see anything?” But the blind man replied, “I see men, but they look like trees, walking.” So Jesus once again laid hands on his eyes and fully restored the man’s sight [10]. When we think that prayer has to be “all or nothing,” our persistence in prayer can be stifled and our faith in God can waver. Yet, He might be whispering, not shouting [11].

Prayer | Our Father, You are in heaven, where you work on behalf of your people – sometimes in shouts and sometimes in whispers. Thank you for using non-spectacular means to accomplish spectacular ends. Show us how to persevere in prayer, as we trust that you are working in our lives every day. Amen.


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Footnotes: [1] When the Israelites passed through the Red Sea and were rescued from the hand of Pharaoh and his mighty army. See Ex. 14:1-29.  |  [2] When Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. See John 11:1-44.  |  [3] When Elijah defeated the prophets of Baal. See 1 Kings 18:20-40.  |  [4] 2 Kings 5:10 NIV1984.  |  [5] 2 Kings 5:11 NIV1984.  |  [6] 2 Kings 5:12 NIV1984.  |  [7] 2 Kings 5:13 NIV1984).  |  [8] 2 Kings 5:15 NIV1984.  |  [9] When God spoke to Elijah in a whisper. See 1 Kings 19:9-18.  |  [10] See Mark 8:22-25.  |  [11] See John Piper, “The ‘All of Nothing’ Impediment to Prayer.” DesiringGod Ministries. 10 January 1983. (noting that his own personal prayer life was “revolutionized” when he realized that – even though he is free to pray for the “all” in his prayers – he can also pray for the “something” and the “something more” in those things that he longs for).

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