Monday, July 1, 2013

Unsung Heroine 2nd Kings 5:1-14

She shows us how to have compassion even for our enemies.

You might have heard this story from 2nd Kings about Elisha and Naaman before. I know I've heard it before too. And as I read this story again this week a new person jumped out at me as indispensable to the story who I didn't remember standing out before.

She stands out, an unsung heroine who shows how to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God (Micah 6:8). Before focusing in on the unsung heroine it is probably good to call to mind the two people who usually catch our focus as we tell this story.

The first is Elisha. He was chosen by God as prophet. He was the one who God chose to speak on behalf of heaven after Elijah. Many believe Elijah was the greatest prophet Israel knew between the days of Moses and John the Baptist. Just think what it would be like to be if you were Elisha. He was a humble man of faith. He looked at what Elijah had done. And now he was called to step in. Talk about a weight as responsibility landing on his shoulders. Elijah had been a good teacher but now with him gone Elisha had huge shoes to fill; and he knew it. He asked one thing of Elijah right before he was carried up into heaven in a chariot. Elisha asked that he might have a double portion of Elijah's spirit. It sounds to me as if Elisha was asking for a double portion of God's power to be poured out for him from what Elijah had received.

The second person who stands out in this story is a war hero of a powerful neighboring nation. His name is well known and likely feared: Naaman. He's was living with, what was in his day, an incurable and deadly disease: leprosy. Naaman might be compared today with the head of the joint chiefs of staff. He was that powerful of a man. He was trusted by the king of Aram and he was sick and he was going to die. Just imagine someone in our day with an inoperable tumor that doesn't respond to any known form of chemo therapy. There was no hope for Naaman. But someone in his own household knew exactly who to turn to for help.

The next person in the story who stands out is a true hero for us. She was a slave girl taken from her family in Israel into Aram, into Syria. We don't know how she eventually ended up in Naaman's home. We can guess that she was kidnapped, mistreated, and humiliated before she was sold off at auction by her kidnappers.

Israel was governed by a weak king. Small parties from neighboring nations would sneak over the border and capture a few people to take home to sell as slaves. This same kind of human trafficking continues in our own time. Young women and girls are captured today to be used and abused. They are treated as someone less than they were made to be when God the Father created them in His very image and likeness.

Consider this young woman, a daughter of Israel: kidnapped, auctioned, and purchased to serve as Naaman's wife's hand maid. She was the personal servant of this mighty general's wife;. She'd likely never have her own family or ever see her parents and siblings again. Maybe you think she should have rejoiced that Naaman was sick. Maybe you think she should have offered prayers of thanks for the illness that threatened her master's life. Maybe you think that way yourself about those who have done you wrong.

But this girl, who's name we don't even know, remembered a miracle working prophet in Israel. She turned to Naaman's wife with this precious news. Even after she'd been through so much she still had compassion and remembered this man of God, this Elisha who could do great things because God was with him.

Bill Hybels notes (starting about 20:38) in a sermon called Washed Clean delivered on June 28, 2009 that she could have played a victim card in our time as an excuse for getting even or not caring. She could have been bitter at this man Namaan. Maybe you think she should have quietly rejoiced at his misfortune. Think about it for just a minute.

She'd been kidnapped by the people this man commanded. She'd been forced to serve in his home—there's a good chance she'd been abused after her capture in unspeakable ways—maybe even by this man Naaman. And still she turned to her mistress and spoke of healing and hope for him.

May we be as bold as this heroine of the faith. May we share the good news with those in need; even our enemies as boldly as she did. Peace and thanks for reading. John

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