The Faith of a Young Girl

2 Kings 5 tells the story of the healing of the Syrian general Naaman. We read of how this powerful, proud man learned to humble himself and obey God’s instruction through the prophet Elisha, and so was miraculously cleansed of his leprosy. But none of it would have happened had it not been for an obscure Israelite girl.

The chapter begins by explaining that bands of Syrian troops had been raiding Israelite territory. In one such raid a young Israelite girl was taken captive and made a servant to Naaman’s wife. Observing Naaman’s condition, the servant girl said to her mistress, “I wish that my master were with the prophet who is in Samaria! Then he would cure him of his leprosy.” At the word of this little girl, Naaman went to his king and secured permission to go to Israel in search of healing (2 Kings 5:1-5).

We know almost nothing about this girl. We don’t know her name, her parents, her home town, or her tribe. We don’t know her age, only that she was relatively young. We don’t know what became of her family or friends. But there is much we can learn from her.

■ She kept her faith when her life was turned upside down. This little girl was ripped from her home, her family, her normal life. Now she was a slave among strangers in foreign land. Did she ever lament, “Why did this happen to me? Life wasn’t supposed to be like this”? If she did, she refused to let it sour her faith.

What if your life were turned upside down? At some point, it will be—by the death of loved one, a serious illness, the loss of a job, or some other kind of trauma. When it happens, will your faith survive? God teaches us to see times of hardship as opportunities to grow (James 1:2-5; 5:13), and to understand that our suffering equips us to help others when they are hurting (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). If this little girl could do that, then so can you.

■ She kept her faith in a foreign place. The Israelite girl’s situation was not unlike that of modern young people who venture from home for first time, perhaps at college or a new job. She was away from familiar surroundings and the influence of her family. She was in a place where no one knew her. Her decisions now came entirely from her own convictions. And she chose to remember God.

This highlights a lesson for parents. Moses had commanded the people of Israel to teach their children about God (Deuteronomy 6:6-7). Clearly this girl’s parents had done so (which is remarkable given that they resided in the northern kingdom, where most people had forsaken the Law). Christian parents, you need to be training your children in God’s way, both by your words and by your actions. Equip them with a commitment to God that will lead them to choose what is right no matter where they are (see Proverbs 22:6; Ephesians 6:4).

■ She kept her faith among hostile people. The Syrians were pagans who did not honor God. They had attacked Israel. Had this girl seen friends mistreated? relatives killed? her village burned? It might have been easy for her to resent or even hate the Syrians, especially Naaman. But instead she acted with love and concern for him.

Will your faith survive encounters with difficult people in your life? Inevitably, you will face problems with family members, friends, co-workers, and others. Will you repay their evil with evil, or with good (see Romans 12:17f; Matthew 5:43f)? People may oppose you, ostracize you, and mistreat you because of your faith. Under that pressure, will you let yourself be conformed to the world or live transformed from it (Romans 12:2)?

■ She shared her faith for the good of others. Might the Israelite girl have been tempted to keep silent? After all, why help an enemy? Why help the general of the armies who took her captive? Why help an ungodly man? But there is no indication of such thoughts in her heart. Her faith prompted her to speak up so that Naaman could find relief.

Here is a lesson in evangelism. We may be inclined to see many lost people as nothing but enemies of the faith. We may even decide that they don’t deserve the offer of God’s grace. We need instead to learn to see them as souls whom God loves and wants to rescue. (See Jonah chapter 4 for a classic example.) Don’t let indifference or animus get in the way of sharing the gospel with others. Jesus came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10). Will we?

■ Her faith made an impact on others. When Naaman went to Israel, not only was his body healed, but his heart was changed (see 2 Kings 5:8,15). He came away knowing that the Lord is the only true God. That never would have happened if it were not for this young girl.

Think of the difference one person can make in another’s life. What if Andrew hadn’t mentioned Jesus to Peter (John 1:35f)? What if Barnabas hadn’t befriended Saul of Tarsus (Acts 9:26f)? What if Abigail hadn’t dissuaded David from murder (1 Samuel 25)? What if Lois & Eunice hadn’t taught Timothy (2 Timothy 1:5)? By serving Christ, you can make a profound difference in someone’s life. Will you?