1 Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Aram, was a great man and in high favor with his master, because by him the Lord had given victory to Aram. The man, though a mighty warrior, suffered from leprosy. 2 Now the Arameans on one of their raids had taken a young girl captive from the land of Israel, and she served Naaman's wife. 3 She said to her mistress, "If only my lord were with the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy." 4 So Naaman went in and told his lord just what the girl from the land of Israel had said. 5 And the king of Aram said, "Go then, and I will send along a letter to the king of Israel." He went, taking with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold, and ten sets of garments. 6 He brought the letter to the king of Israel, which read, "When this letter reaches you, know that I have sent to you my servant Naaman, that you may cure him of his leprosy." 7 When the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his clothes and said, "Am I God, to give death or life, that this man sends word to me to cure a man of his leprosy? Just look and see how he is trying to pick a quarrel with me." 8 But when Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes, he sent a message to the king, "Why have you torn your clothes? Let him come to me, that he may learn that there is a prophet in Israel." 9 So Naaman came with his horses and chariots, and halted at the entrance of Elisha's house. 10 Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, "Go, wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored and you shall be clean." 11 But Naaman became angry and went away, saying, "I thought that for me he would surely come out, and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and would wave his hand over the spot, and cure the leprosy! 12 Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them, and be clean?" He turned and went away in a rage. 13 But his servants approached and said to him, "Father, if the prophet had commanded you to do something difficult, would you not have done it? How much more, when all he said to you was, "Wash, and be clean'?" 14 So he went down and immersed himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God; his flesh was restored like the flesh of a young boy, and he was clean.
It's another nameless woman that has captured my attention this week. There are two of them in this story - Naaman's wife and her servant, a young woman from Israel. She was captured captured when Israel was at war with Aram and now she serves the wife of the commander of the army of Aram. She is an Israelite, which tribe? We don't know. Does she have family still living? Or did they die in the war? We don't know. We have dialogue... She said to her mistress, "If only my lord were with the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy." And her words provoke action... "So Naaman went in and told his lord just what the girl from the land of Israel had said."
What were the two women doing during this conversation with Naaman's wife? Were they friendly? Was it easy to share her knowledge of the prophet in Samaria? Or was she putting herself at risk by bringing up her homeland? How did she know of the prophet? Had she heard stories? Had she seen miraculous acts? Where did her faith come from? And why was it strong enough to assert when she had lost so much? What fueled or fed her faith?
I would ask us those same last questions. Where does our faith come from? Why is it strong enough to assert (or is it) when we have lost things? What fuels or feeds our faith?
Faith is listed as a fruit of the Spirit in Galatians. A fruit of the Spirit that is living and active within us, around us and through us. The Spirit lives within us and produces fruit - one of which is faith. The Spirit produces other fruit too - love, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, meekness, self-control. Some of those gifts are produced regularly from the Spirit growing within me and others are less "hearty." When is faith the strong crop in our lives? Under what circumstances is faith a hearty fruit of the Spirit?
I believe this young servant woman has something to tell us about that.
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