September 13, 2010

Kidnapped ... and Hopeful

Now the Arameans had gone out in bands and taken captive a little girl from the land of Israel; and she waited on Naaman’s wife. She 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.” 2 Kings 5.1-2

I read these words, and the chapter that follows, this past Sunday night. And I was amazed again at the wherewithal of this little Israelite girl! Alistair Begg, preaching on this passage,* has noted what an amazing thing it is that such a little girl – kidnapped and far from home – still had the faith and the presence of mind to know that, back home in Israel, there was a God and a prophet who could work miracles. And I echo his observation in these paragraphs!

We don’t know how old she was, exactly. Old enough, I suppose, to have been of some domestic use to Naaman’s wife, but young enough to still have been considered “a little girl”. Ten years old, maybe? Twelve? Probably something like that. So picture the scene …

Marauding bands of Arameans swoop down upon her family’s farm or village. As they plunder horses, and jewelry, and wine, and wheat … they also notice a little girl who would make a splendid housemaid for their master and his wife. And so they just scoop her up, as though she were nothing more than another bushel of wheat, and whisk her away to her new ‘home’. Perhaps they did the same with any number of young men and women on that devastating day. We don’t know. But whether she was the only one taken, or whether the Arameans captured a few dozen village children that day … the wound would have been just the same for her poor parents. One can scarcely imagine what the parents of a kidnapped child go through. ‘Is she alive? And if so, where is she? And what are those awful men doing to her? Will we ever see her again? And if we did, would she even remember us?’ I tend to think having a child kidnapped might be the worst thing a parent could possibly go through.

But such was the fate of this girl’s poor parents. And we are not told if they ever saw her again. Did Naaman, thankful for her good advice (and his subsequent healing from leprosy), grant her freedom? Did she ever escape? We don’t know. Nor do we know what happened to her parents after these events. Did they ever recover? We’re not sure. But one thing we can surmise is that, before she was kidnapped, those now grieving parents must have done a good job raising their little girl! Why do we infer that? Because, though their little girl had been kidnapped; though she had been taken out from under the watchful eyes of her parents; though the unthinkable had happened to her … she did not lose her faith! Even in the midst of the worst of circumstances; and even taken out of Israel and away from God’s word and God’s people … she still remembered her God; and she still believed He could work miracles through His people and His prophet!

Isn’t that amazing? Most people, in her shoes, would have wondered if God had forsaken them. They would have begun to doubt His power after all: ‘If He’s not rescuing me, why would he ever rescue Naaman?’ Indeed – instead of pointing Naaman to the cure to be found in God – most people in this little girl’s situation would probably have wished that the leprosy would kill their captor! But not this girl! Something had happened in those 10-12 years under her parents’ roof … something that apparently gave her every reason to believe that God works all things for His people’s good; that God knows what He is doing; that God is kind and wise and merciful … even when we can’t see it with our eyes; and that God could work miracles! I say that something must have been going on – probably in her relationship with her parents, and in the training that they gave to her – such that she trusted God no matter what!

And so let me just ask you: If (God forbid) something should happen to you, or your child, or your grandchild; if you should be separated from them this very week … would the time spent under your roof and in your care have convinced them of the goodness and power of God, no matter what happens? I hope so! But let’s not just hope! Let’s make sure that we do everything we can to so live and teach that our children might stand up to the grimmest circumstances … and do so with all faith!

*Begg preached twice on 2 Kings 5 in June 1996. The first message deals with Naaman and his healing at the hands of Elisha. The second tells of the greed of Elisha's servant Gehazi. Although the second sermon focuses on verses 15 and following, it is in this sermon that he comments on the little servant girl from Israel. I commend both of the sermons to your listening.

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