In II Kings 5 the king of Aram, having heard of the prophet Elisha, sent his leprous general Naaman to the king of Israel so that he might be cured of his leprosy. We find the king’s response in verse 7: “Am I God, to kill and make alive, that this man is sending word to me to cure a man of his leprosy?” Despite his other failings, at least the king demonstrated an important attitude here:
His response was laudable: “Am I God, to kill and make alive … ?” He recognized his utter inability to deal with the situation that faced him — which is an attitude that many of us should emulate.
Without verbalizing it, many of us almost DO act as if we think of ourselves as God: we think we can fix everything! But the truth is, we can’t. This king had the “poor in spirit” attitude which Jesus lauded in Matthew 5:3, that he could do nothing, and needed to look to God for help. This attitude is vital for salvation (the reward Jesus promised for the poor in spirit is that “theirs is the kingdom of heaven”) and for many of the other problems we face in life as well:
— Physicians should adopt this attitude: many are as helpless in certain medical situations as the king of Israel was facing Naaman’s leprosy. They should cry: “Am I God?” and call out to Him to do what they cannot.
— Parents should say, “Am I God?” to some of the situations their families face, and realize that even though they are in authority, they do not have all the answers.
— Politicians should admit that the problems of this country cannot be mended by government policies alone. “Am I God?” should be their humble admission.
— Pastors, tempted to be “lords” of their ecclesiastical domains, should instead exclaim “Am I God?” and bow before the One who is, and ask Him to do what only HE can do their church.
— People of all kinds, scrambling to “handle this” difficult situation in their own strength and expertise, need to bow before God and admit their need of Him: “Am I God?”
— Penitent sinners need this attitude more than anyone. Can we save ourselves from our moral and spiritual failures? None of us can — that is why Jesus said the key to entering the Kingdom of Heaven is to be “poor in spirit”, admitting, “Am I God?”
This is no excuse for inaction. We should always do whatever is in our power to do in our situations, with God’s help. But there are times — and these times are more often than we might care to admit — when we should realize our limitations, and say like the king did here: “Am I God?” — and call out to the One who is for the help we need!