10/10/2019 11:53:44 AM
Reflection: How God Sees
Today's reading from 2 Kings 5:1-3, 7-15c started in a strange place. Naaman was a successful military commander of Aram, a kingdom centered in modern day Syria. He did not follow the God of Israel yet we hear, in the very first verse, that God was with him. We don't always think about God being with those who don't believe. Yet, that's where this story began. Naaman was a foreigner with immense power given to him by his King and Israel's God. Yet his life was not perfect. Even though he was powerful, he was sick. And he could not remove the leprosy that afflicted him.
However, one of his slaves was a young girl who would be the catalyst for his salvation. She had been captured during one of the many Aramean raids on Israel during this period. Aram's success on the battlefield meant Israel was oppressed by their stronger neighbor. At this moment in history, the power gap between Israel and Aram was huge. Israel could barely defend itself. And in the case of this young woman, her power when compared to Naaman was even more at odds. She was enslaved by the very military leader who succeeded in destabilizing her community. She had no control over the violence done to her while Naaman could exercise his power in any way he saw fit. In the eyes of the world, she was nothing while he was everything. Yet God chose to speak through her. Naaman's healing would not come through his worldly power. Rather, his healing came through the people the world saw as powerless. Because, as evident throughout Scripture, those who have no one to trust but God are the ones who can see God's work in the world. After being informed by the prophet Elisha to go and take a bath, Naaman almost didn't do it. Elisha's words seemed too easy. Yet those around Naaman, especially his powerless servants and slaves, knew what God was up to. They convince Naaman to embrace what God was doing. Naaman finally washed and was healed.
But there's more to the story than a simple healing. We need to look at the Hebrew. Our English translation is based on to truly see what God was doing. In the words of Dr. Rolf Jacobson, "The Hebrew for 'young boy' is na’ar qaton—the masculine equivalent to the young girl (na’arah qatannah) whom the great man had enslaved and from whom his salvation began." In God's eyes, Naaman has become like the young girl - beloved, welcomed, and included. God chose to make Naaman brand new. And in that newness, God encouraged Naaman to see others in a new way, too. He was invited, I believe, to see that young girl not the way the world does, as a slave. Rather, he should see her through God's eyes, setting her free, because she, like every human being, is worth more than any army of chariots, horses, and mighty warriors.