Naaman is a great man, a powerful and wealthy military commander. But he has leprosy. While his disease does not disable him, it must be distressing nonetheless. The slave girl, by contrast, is a nobody, so unimportant that she remains unnamed. She is a young prisoner of war, an Israelite who has been kidnapped and enslaved by the Arameans. And she serves in Naaman’s household.
For all the power of Naaman and the kings of Aram and Israel, they remain ignorant of a simple fact that this young woman knows: A great healer resides in Israel. The king of Israel seemingly knows nothing of Elisha's presence. When Naaman comes to him, the king tears his clothes in anguish, terrified that his being asked to do the impossible signals a pretext for Aramean attack.
Naaman could easily have dismissed the girl’s report. She is young, a slave, and a foreigner. Even more, her people are the enemy of Naaman’s people. Even if she knew what she was talking about, she would have no reason to use her knowledge to benefit Naaman. Fortunately for Naaman, the enslaved girl not only knew about God’s work in the world—she willingly shared that knowledge with her captor. And Naaman listened.
Many of us would be less receptive. The church does a poor job of listening to young people. We limit their participation in worship and sequester them in spaces where they cannot be heard. This passage invites us to approach matters differently—to assume that young people know God in ways the church needs to hear about, to begin doing ministry with young people instead of ministry to them.
Jesus, help us welcome the young ones among us, to hear the messages that you send through them, and to cultivate them as leaders of the church. Amen.