Naaman the Leper and Addiction Recovery

Blog Post

Have you ever studied the story of Naaman, a high-ranking Syrian commander, as recounted in 2 Kings 5? Despite his success and wealth, Naaman harbored a secret: he was afflicted with leprosy, a condition that, in those times, could lead to severe social exclusion and eventual death. For a man of his stature, the implications were dire—it meant the loss of his military prowess and societal influence, leading to inevitable isolation and a distressing demise.

Naaman learns of a prophet named Elisha through a young captive girl from Israel who suggests he could be the key to curing his leprosy. Eager for healing, Naaman sets out with a trove of gold, silver, and other gifts to offer in exchange for his treatment. After a dismissive encounter with the king, Naaman seeks Elisha’s assistance. Accustomed to respect and ceremony, Naaman is taken aback when Elisha, refraining from a personal meeting, sends a messenger with simple instructions for healing. Moreover, Elisha declines any form of payment, insisting that the credit goes to God. These actions bruise Naaman’s pride.

Initially, Naaman scoffs at the directive to bathe seven times in the Jordan River—a foreshadowing of Jesus’ baptism in the same waters years later. However, once Naaman humbles himself and follows the guidance, he is miraculously healed and becomes a worshiper of God. This narrative echoes the journey many undertake in the quest for sobriety, where the challenge of addiction is akin to leprosy’s stigma and isolation.

A striking aspect of Naaman’s story is his resistance to the straightforward remedy for his ailment, a resistance that mirrors the struggle of those battling addiction. Addicts often try numerous complex and self-devised methods to conquer their addiction, from devouring literature, and immersing themselves in fitness and diet regimens, to experimenting with medications and engaging in superficial spiritual rituals. They may vow to quit, try hypnosis, and other endless tactics—all to avoid yielding to a higher power that promises restoration.

After countless attempts and years of setbacks, the breakthrough in overcoming addiction may come in the form of a simple, yet profound, plea for help—a single-word prayer uttered in true humility and openness to guidance. In our program, The Dunamis Effect, we integrate the principles of the 12 Steps with modern understandings of addiction medicine, while boldly recognizing Christ Jesus as our “higher power” and the God of the Bible as our foundation.

We honor every path that leads to sobriety, yet we are certain that true spiritual and emotional recovery is accessed through the transformative power of the Spirit that comes with accepting Jesus as our Savior. Post-recovery life isn’t promised to be flawless, but it is undeniably better without the shackles of addiction, even amidst life’s challenges. Naaman’s story concludes with the wise counsel from Elisha: “Go in peace,” a sentiment that remains profoundly applicable today.

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