She was a little girl, we really don’t know how old she was, but based on the Hebrew word used, she was less than 12 and older than 5. Her homeland had been defeated. Her home had most likely been destroyed. She had been taken captive, torn away from the safety and security of her home, taken away from her mother and father, separated from her sisters and brothers, separated from everyone and everything she had ever loved or known. She had been taken to a foreign land and given to the wife of the king’s highest commander to serve her and live as a slave. She is a captive. She is a slave. She is a little girl. And she is absolutely amazing.
Here she is living as a slave in a foreign land serving the wife of the man who is ultimately responsible for the destruction of her town, the loss of her home and her family and he comes down with a horrible and highly contagious disease, which could cost him his power, his authority, his honor, his prestige, his livelihood and ultimately his life. And what does she do? Does she smile to herself and think that this man is getting what he deserves? Does she thank God for vanquishing her enemies? Does she find a way to make this work to her advantage? (Those all things I might have done, had I been in her shoes.) No, she goes to her mistress and tells her mistress that there is a prophet in her homeland who could heal her master.
She does something that many in her position would not even think to do. She does the last thing that anyone would have thought that this child, this little captive slave girl would do. She has compassion on someone, most people would not condemn for hating. She has compassion on her master, on her enemy. She has compassion on the very man who has taken away her peace, security and childhood.
She has compassion and she has faith; faith not only in the ability and power of her God, but in God’s compassion. She might have been taken captive, she might have been forced to live in the enemy’s land serving the enemy’s wife, she might have lost absolutely everything that had value or mattered in her life, but in spite of all she has lost and the bleakness of the situation in which she is now, she still has faith that her God can do this and believes that her God is bigger than her family, her homeland, her people, that her God wants to reach out and heal someone she has every reason to hate, or at least dislike quite a bit. She has faith even when her world has gone crazy and has been turned upside down and nothing seems to be going right. She has faith and no matter what bad things may have happened to her in her short life, God is still God. Her faith is deeper than the good or bad things that happen to her. Her faith is bigger than whether or not her country has been attacked. Her faith is bigger than what has happened to herself or to those whom she loves. Her faith is bigger than her circumstances, bigger than anything that had happened to her, was happening or even might happen. God is still God even when bad things happen. And God loves everyone, even people who do horrible things. She has faith that the prophet, whom God called, can heal her master, can heal her enemy. She has faith and she has compassion on this man and she shares her faith in God with her mistress and ultimately with her master.
Naaman is a powerful man. He is high in the king’s favor and he is the highest commander of the army. He has quite a bit of power and prestige. Then something completely beyond his control happens to him; something his power has no affect over, something his connections to the King cannot remedy. He contracts a skin disease that could ruin his whole life. He has tried everything, he has gone to all the best Doctors, tried all the best ointments and creams, and has even tried the herbal remedies recommended by his grandmother, but none of it has worked. His disease still persists. He is at the end of his rope. What can he do? Will he simply have to accept his new lot in life?
Then his wife comes to him with interesting news. Apparently the little slave girl, he gave her as an “I’m sorry I was gone so long at war” present, says that there is a prophet in Israel who can heal him. So this girl is proposing he go to the country of his enemy and ask their prophet to heal him. (shrug) “Guess I can ask, I mean it couldn’t hurt. Not like things can be much worse for me than they are now.”
And off he goes. He talks to his king, his king gives him his blessing and he goes and talks to the king of Israel, who takes offense at the situation, thinking it is some kind of trick for this enemy king to find a way to pick a war with him. Somehow Elisha hears about what is going on and has Naaman sent over to his house.
So Naaman heads over to Elisha’s house, all the while Naaman is imagining all the grand things the prophet will do to cure him of his aliment. He will put on strange and unusual clothes, he will light a fire and put special things in it to turn it green, he will dance around wearing a mysterious costume saying ancient words in a long forgotten language, lay his hands on Namaan at just the right moment and magically Naaman will be healed. Or perhaps he will circle around the fire 8 times clockwise and 4 counter clockwise. He will then put the fire out and make a paste of the ashes, rub the ashes all over Namaan’s body, have him bath in the finest oil and wash with a perfume made from a special flower that only blooms once a decade that can only be found on some remote location on a high cliff overlooking a magical waterfall and then he will be cured of his leprosy. Ok, maybe that is a bit much, but at the very least he will come out say a magnificent prayer calling out to his God wave his hand over the spot and it will be gone. But none of these things happened. Not even close. Instead, the prophet sends out a messenger and tells him to go and bath in the Jordan.
Naaman is a little more than annoyed and almost offended. Not only has the prophet not even both to come out and greet him, but he tells him to go bath in the Jordan river. That is ridiculous. Now if you don’t understand why this is so ridiculous then you have not heard much about the Jordan River, or like myself have never seen it in person. Although, I have never seen the Jordon river myself, I just so happen to live with someone who has, and from what he has been told, you are more likely to get clean if you bath in a stagnant pond that has dead fish floating in it, than you would be if you bathed in the Jordan River (perhaps a bit overstated but close enough to the truth that you get the point). It is a dirty, muddy, stinky, foul river that nobody baths in. There are cleaner rivers back home that Namaan can bath in, if bathing is what will be the cure.
Naaman is mad, really mad and heads off toward home. Then one of his servants talks some sense into him. And says, I remember your ponderings on your way over here. You would have gone along with what ever elaborate scheme, climbed countless mountains, gone on almost any nonsensical quest this prophet could have come up with if it had even a chance to heal you. But you turn away from something that seems merely undesirable. Doesn’t it make sense to at least try to do something simple and counterintuitive like to going wash in a dirty river in order to be clean. After all it is not any more preposterous than anything else he could have asked you to do. You should not at least try.
So Naaman decided to give it a chance. He goes and baths in the dirty disgusting Jordan seven times and low and behold he comes out with skin as smooth and clean as that of a newborn baby’s.
That’s right ladies smooth, young skin, just like the day you were born – all you have to do is bath in this dirty water 7 times – this could sell millions.
As I see it there were two people that have been healed in this story. Obviously Naaman was healed, but I believe this young Hebrew girl has been healed as well. This young girl is healed of her hurt, healed of her anger and healed of her pain. She has faith in God even when things are not going the way she would have wanted them to go. She has every reason to despise Naaman. She has every reason to wish him ill will. She has every reason to be mad at God. But she does not do any of these things. She has faith in God. She has compassion on this man. Even when her life is in complete shambles she trusts God. Even when her home is destroyed, she is taken from her family and she has been sold into slavery she still has faith in God. And her faith has healed her; healed her of her hard feelings; healed her of her hurt; healed her of her anger. And it has given her compassion, compassion enough to wish that her captor be well, healed enough to share with him information about her God and God’s prophet in her homeland that could save his life. She has faith and her faith heals her.
Not only is this little girl healed but Naaman, is also healed. He has to trust God in a completely different way. He has to trust what this little girl has to say about God and God’s prophet. He has to trust this prophet, which for the people of that day was as good as trusting God. He had to trust God when he is asked to do something ridiculous. He has to have faith that God can work through this prophet without the prophet even giving him as much as a, “Hi, how are ya doing?” He had to have faith that getting into the dirty Jordan River would bring God’s healing into his life. His faith healed him as well.
I don’t know what all you have been through today. I don’t know what all may have happened in your lives. Things may be going quite well for you, life may be on an up swing, or maybe not. There may be any number of things in your life which need the healing touch of God. You may be like this little girl. It seems that nothing has ever gone right for you. Life keeps dealing you one bad hand on top of another. You may not actually be a slave in a foreign land but some pretty bad things have happened. You are angry. You have every right to be angry. You are hurt. You have every right to be hurt. But you don’t have to live in your anger and hurt. You can give them to God, you can allow God to take them from you, simply by trusting and having faith. God can’t change what has happened to you but God can take those bad things and use them for good. All you need to do is trust and have faith and allow God to work through you to accomplish God’s will and God’s work and it is through that faith and through that trust that you can be healed.
You may be like Naaman, life was going well but then a curve ball got thrown at you and you don’t know what to do with it. Something completely beyond your control has thrown a wrench in the machinery of your life. You don’t know what to do. You have tried everything, nothing has worked. You wish that some religious nut would come and do something spectacular to heal the broken and sick parts of your life, but the answers you seem to be getting from God are not satisfactory. They are not the things that you expected. You wanted your healing to come one way and God is giving it to you in another. Again, all you need to do is trust God, have faith in God and do what you are called to do. Accept God’s healing, God’s way.
I don’t know what kind of healing you need this morning; physical, emotional, spiritual, but I know I can say one thing. You can be healed but you must have faith. You must trust in God and trust in God’s ways. No matter who you are, no matter what is going on or has gone on in your life there is only one thing that can ultimately bring you to a place of healing in your life and that is faith.