Free to Rise: Women in God's Story
DAY 1 OF 9
This is one of my favorite stories in the Bible. On the surface it reads quite prosaically: a young serving girl sees that her mistress’ husband is suffering from a serious skin disease. The girl is from Israel, so she knows about Elisha and how God can heal through him. If Naaman could just meet Elisha, she thinks, he could be healed. And of course, that is what happens, despite Naaman’s arrogant attitude towards the Jordan river!
But let’s think more about some of the dynamics going on here.
The Israelite servant girl has been kidnapped by a band of raiders from Aram. In today’s language, she has been trafficked, sold into slavery and bought by Naaman for his wife. The text tells us nothing but it doesn’t take much to imagine what treatment she may have received at the hands of the band of raiders, or even at the hands of Naaman. This isn’t a girl who has applied for a housekeeping job in someone’s house. This is a girl who has most likely suffered severe violence and is living in domestic slavery in a stranger’s house, a long way from home.
And yet she is able to reach out beyond herself to think about Naaman and the suffering he is going through.
I wonder how I would do in her situation? Not quite so well I suspect. I think I would curl up into a ball of bitterness and revenge.
Her story challenges and motivates me to think outside of myself and my own situations to be mindful of others. You may not be in a situation that you would have chosen to be in, but are there people God has placed in your life that you may need to reach out with compassion and love?
Through the servant girl’s openness, God is able to work a wonderful miracle. This leads Naaman to acknowledge that the God of Israel is the only God of the world. Despite the awfulness of her situation, God is able to use her powerfully. And yet, is it too obvious to state that we cannot even give today’s devotional a proper name? We do not know the name of the serving girl. We do not even know the name of her mistress! All we know is the man’s name: Naaman.
There is a lot wrong in this situation, of course. It reflects the patriarchy of the time that records the man’s name, but not that of the women, and that allowed domestic slavery to go unchallenged. At the same time, though, I am humbled and chastised by this anonymity. I’m reminded that whatever work God does through us – however small or big – what matters is that His name is the one that is known.
Let’s take some time to reflect on this story. What life situation are you in? Is it one of your own choosing or not? What would God like to say to you through this slave girl, and what would you like to say to God?
By Ruth Valerio, Director of Global Advocacy and Influencing at Tearfund UK
About this Plan
In the Bible, we have countless examples of persistent women whom God chose to lead: Women like Deborah, Esther, and Martha. As they stepped into their callings, they rose above the limits their societies placed on them....
We would like to thank Tearfund.org for providing this plan. For more information, please visit: http://www.tearfundusa.org
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