“Physicians and medical professionals love to study case histories,” speaker Mark Finley said at the 2022 Pathway to Health ministry worship service on April 16. “The [Bible] story of Naaman is an ancient case history, teaching eternal truths that are as up to date as the latest scientific studies.”
Finley’s message, presented just hours before the official opening of the free mega-clinic at the Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana, United States, sought to encourage and motivate 2,500 Adventist volunteers to live what they preach to others. Volunteers include health professionals from various specialties and also pastors, teachers, administrative assistants, interpreters, engineers, logistics managers, and health managers, among others.
Eyes of Compassion
Turning the attention of his audience on the second floor of the massive auditorium to the Bible story recorded in 2 Kings 5, Finley opened his message by emphasizing the role of the young servant from Israel, who told Naaman to go and look for God’s prophet in Israel to find healing.
“This story speaks to us,” Finley said. “A little Jewish captive girl had eyes to see the needs of another…. She looked with eyes of divine compassion. She saw — in the life of someone who was incredibly different — a possibility of getting him in contact, through his disease, with a man of God who would share the principles of the eternal kingdom, and his life could be changed.”
Finley then said that just like the young servant from Israel, God has called us to be lights in a darkened world. “We can be ambassadors of health in a world that is dying prematurely, often from self-inflicted diseases,” Finley said. “But one person can make a difference.”
In the following minutes, Finley set out to flesh out what he called “five eternal truths from the story of Naaman.”
Making Wise Choices
First, it’s all about making wise choices, Finley said. In the Bible story recorded in 2 Kings 5, Naaman appears hesitant and reluctant to do what is right. “Have you ever hesitated in doing what you know to be right?” Finley asked. “But have you ever noticed the number of times in the Bible that healing is associated with positive choices?”
According to Finley, there are times when we erect artificial barriers to change. We become locked into negative behaviors and imprisoned in destructive habits. “Naaman was faced with a choice,” Finley said. “To follow the divine command or remain in his leprosy.”
Likewise, Finley said, it might be that some of the Pathway to Health volunteers have some unhealthy practices that are shortening their lives and they need to overcome with God’s help. “Maybe God brought you here not only to serve but to be served … not only to give but to receive,” Finley told volunteers.
Obeying Divine Commands
Because God did not work in the way Naaman thought he ought to work, Naaman went into a rage. There are times also in our lives when God works in ways that are beyond what we can imagine, Finley said. “When we deal with God, we can expect the unexpected,” Finley said. “We can expect God to surprise us. As the Spirit convicts us for change, God may lead us down pathways that we never thought about before.”
Just like Naaman, however, we do well in obeying the messages of God and God’s prophets, Finley said. He encouraged Pathway to Health volunteers to “cultivate prompt, exact, unquestioning, joyous obedience to every command” from God’s prophets. “Blessing lies in the direction of obedience to them. God’s commands are but signboards that mark the road to present success and blessedness,” he said. “The path of obedience is the path of blessing.”
Following Heaven’s Methods
Finley said that often, following heaven’s methods for health does not entail complicated or cumbersome procedures. According to him, current scientific research is confirming the Adventist health message. “We have nothing to be embarrassed about,” Finley said.
He reported that recent research conducted by the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health concluded that maintaining a few healthy habits — eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, keeping a healthy body weight, and avoiding alcohol and tobacco — add more than a decade to life expectancy.
But why do we want healthy bodies? Finley asked his audience. “Simply to live longer?”
That is not the case, he answered. “It is so that we have the abundant life, and we can serve longer,” Finley said.
Believing God’s Promises
As a fourth lesson, Finley said that in Naaman’s story there is a linkage between physical healing and spiritual healing. “Do you think it was the river water that healed Naaman’s leprosy?” he asked volunteers. “Obviously not. It was the power of God.” He explained, “God often uses more natural means to maintain our health and provide healing to our bodies, but healing is a gift that comes from God.”
At the same time, he emphasized, faith is key to healing. “Faith is trusting God as a friend, believing that His commands are always for our best good and His desire for our lives is for us to live lives of abundance and joy,” Finley said. He quoted Blue Zones author Dan Buettner, who, in interviewing some of the older people groups around the world (including Loma Linda Seventh-day Adventists), found that faith was a point all of them had in common. “In all blue zones’ regions, centenarians were part of a religious community. People who pay attention to their spiritual side have lower rates of cardiovascular disease, depression, stress, and suicide, and their immune system seems to work better,” Buettner wrote. “To a certain extent, adherence to a religion allows them to relinquish the stresses of everyday life to a higher power.”
Sharing What We Know
Naaman’s story tells how he was brought into contact with the people of God so that his life could be transformed and changed, Finley said. Likewise, for you “as a medical professional, the people who are walking through your offices are looking for health.... The people who come through the doors of this place come for physical reasons, but God has a different agenda. God brings them here … and we serve them for service’s sake,” he emphasized. “But all the time with eyes divinely anointed, we are praying that the Spirit of God will open the doors of some hearts … that [someone] will be saved for the kingdom of God because he was touched by grace and charmed by love and redeemed by the power of the cross.”
And he closed with, “Our great goal is to reveal the living Christ to them.”