Imagine being ripped away from your home, your family, your country, and everything familiar to you as a young girl. What must it feel like to know that you will never see your loved ones again and that you are fated to slavery for the rest of your life? This is what happened to the young Hebrew maid in the story of Naaman. Syrian soldiers had raided the land of Israel and brought back a young girl who became a maid to Naaman’s wife.
Naaman was an important man—captain of the Syrian army. He was brave, honorable, highly regarded, and respected by the king. However, Naaman had a misfortune. He had leprosy—a deadly and contagious disease. The little maid mentions to Naaman’s wife that if Naaman would go see a prophet in Samaria (Elisha), he would be cured of his leprosy (2 Kings 5:3).
The focus of the story is usually designated to what happens after. Naaman goes to Elisha, eventually obeys his instructions to dip in the Jordan River seven times, and is miraculously healed.
But let’s return our focus to the Hebrew maid. Many times I have imagined myself being in her position and wondered how I would have felt, how I would have acted or reacted if given the same lot in life. I admire her.
A spirit of acceptance
Having a spirit of acceptance and contentment isn’t a popular mantra in the 21st Century. There’s a demand to “recognize your worth” and “accept nothing less than the best”. But this doesn’t teach us resilience when faced with what we cannot change, to find joy in what is instead of yearning for what we imagine could or should be.
That young girl must have missed her family and her people, but she manifested a spirit of acceptance and contentment towards her lot in life, a spirit of submission. She didn’t give in to self-pity, nor was she busy trying to find ways to escape. Though likely a teen, she showed emotional, psychological, and spiritual maturity in the face of a traumatic life change.
An opportunity to witness
Brave and courageous, this maiden didn’t miss an opportunity to tell her heathen mistress about a prophet of God. It seems that Naaman and his wife were good to her, why risk jeopardizing a good position by introducing a religious theme? But she wasn’t afraid to share at the appropriate time. Not only did she help bring physical healing into that home, but spiritual healing as well!
A lesson in forgiveness
As she ministered in that heathen home, her sympathies were aroused in behalf of her master; and, remembering the wonderful miracles of healing wrought through Elisha, she said to her mistress, ‘Would God my lord were with the prophet that is in Samaria! For he would recover him of his leprosy.’Prophets and Kings (p. 244)
How incredible that this young maid, kept her heart soft, sympathetic, and unselfish, even towards those who were keeping her captive! She didn’t feel anger, hatred, or resentment towards her master or his wife; instead, she was touched by Naaman’s suffering and wanted to help him. How many of us would want to help our enemies?
A lesson in Christian parenting
Though never mentioned in the Bible, the Hebrew maid’s parents were essential characters in this story. In the short while she was with them, they gave her a strong spiritual foundation that produced a strong faith in God and a beautiful character.
The parents of that Hebrew maid, as they taught her of God, did not know the destiny that would be hers. But they were faithful to their trust; and in the home of the captain of the Syrian host, their child bore witness to the God whom she had learned to honor.Prophets and Kings, p. 246
They didn’t know it, but they were preparing her for an important mission, they were preparing her to be a powerful witness, a blessing in a heathen home, a faithful little missionary! We don’t know the future our children will face. Are we preparing them for it?
He who sent Philip to the Ethiopian councilor, Peter to the Roman centurion, and the little Israelitish maiden to the help of Naaman, the Syrian captain, sends men and women and youth today as His representatives to those in need of divine help and guidance.
Ministry of Healing, p. 473