Heart Matters: When Human Efforts Fail

“Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master and in high favor, because by him the Lord had given victory to Syria. He was a mighty man of valor, but he was a leper” (2 Kings 5:1).

Naaman accomplished much in his life up to this point. He rose through the ranks all the way to commander of the Army of Syria. He obviously overcame many obstacles throughout his life to get to this point. The King of Syria no doubt trusted him and believed him to be a man of great ability. But notice the last words of this verse: “. . .but he was a leper.” Naaman had it all, and helped the nation Syria out of many jams and tight fixes, but he could not help himself.

Most people today try to map out some sort of life plan. Perhaps they set a career goal and then set out to attain that goal, going through every hoop needed to get there. But they eventually run into things they could not possibly foresee: A major roadblock. Most of us sub-consciously know we will experience setbacks, but they always seem to come as a surprise to us. In our humanness, we think we can defeat all foes, but then we run into the unexpected, something we cannot defeat or even compete with.

It’s important to remember the first step toward victory is admitting that we have a problem we cannot solve. For the believer, our eyes should immediately gaze heavenward, to our marvelous Lord who can “do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us. . .” (Ephesians 3:20). But often we suppose we can brave all elements that come against us, only to sink in despair. God’s wisdom tells us we need to admit our inability to solve matters apart from God. In fact, we need a heart for God to do any good at all, whether for ourselves or others.

Remember that a heart for people without a heart for God results in failure. We can do little for others if we fail to surrender our hearts to God. In fact, we will have little desire to help others at all. Naaman tried to help himself, no doubt his family and others did, too. But the needed help was from someone who could get in touch with God.


1. Ask God to soften your heart so that you can admit you have a need.

2. Pray that God would lead you to the right solution, usually some person, who can help you in your difficulty.

3. Learn to lean on God’s great strength and praise Him for His compassion. Naaman was a Syrian, an arch enemy of Israel. Nevertheless, God granted him favor and guided him to someone who could help.

4. When someone helps us out, be quick to return the favor.
You may not think you’re in a position to help anyone, but you can certainly share the love of God with others, as Peter reminds us:

“But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15).


Lord, grant me the wisdom to turn to You when my human strength fails. Forgive me when I have relied upon my own resources or resolve, and not on you. Thank you for what you have done in my life, and how you helped me in my time of need. I pray I would take this love and share it with others. Give me a sensitive heart for other people.

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