Reading: 2 Kings 5: 1-14
The three central characters are varied. Two are very powerful and one is apparently not. On the one hand, Naaman and Elisha appear to have a great deal of power. Naaman is a powerful military commander and Elisha is God’s prophet, empowered by the living God. The slave girl appears weak and powerless. She is a prisoner of war, being kept as a slave in a foreign land.
On the other hand, Elisha and the slave girl are powerful in a way that the world does not know. They know the power of God and trust in Him absolutely. Naaman does not know God. He is powerless to affect the one thing in life that isolates him: leprosy. In a mighty act of God, Naaman does come to see and experience God’s healing power, but we do not know if he claims it for his own.
In this story we cannot miss the young slave girl’s impact. She is alone, away from her people, enslaved in a foreign land. Yet she holds firmly to her faith in God. Without the slightest doubt she makes known to Naaman that he can find healing in her homeland. She is willing to share her faith and her knowledge with one who has enslaved her. This young slave girl is a shining witness to her faith, loving her enemy.
We cannot miss that she is young, yet another example that God provides so that we do not overlook our young people. It would have been easy and all too common for Naaman to simply dismiss her. It is not common for those in authority to readily listen to those who appear young and powerless. This happens in our churches as well. How often do we miss what the young Davids, the young Samuels, and the young slave girls have to offer.
After spending a week with almost one hundred youth serving on the Navajo Nation, I can testify to the fact that they have much to offer. They not only offered the labor of their hands, but they also witnessed to their faith. They were, like the slave girl, amazing and powerful. As individuals and as places of God, may we cultivate, encourage, and seek out young people as leaders and as contributors to the building of the kingdom. Like with the slave girl, much power resides in our young people. May we invite them in, allow them space to share and develop their dreams, gifts, and talents, and encourage them as they go forth to change the world.