God’s Power At Work Through Faith
By Rich Carmicheal
Scripture Reading: 2 Kings 5:1-18
You are probably familiar with the story of Naaman as recorded in the fifth chapter of Second Kings. That chapter begins with this description of Naaman: "Now Naaman was commander of the army of the king of Aram. He was a great man in the sight of his master and highly regarded, because through him the Lord had given victory to Aram. He was a valiant soldier, but he had leprosy." In order that he might be healed of his leprosy, Naaman traveled to see the prophet Elisha, who sent this message to Naaman: "Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed." Though Naaman initially resisted Elisha’s instructions, he eventually "went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, as the man of God had told him, and his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy" (v.14). Naaman was so awestruck and thankful for this healing that he went back to Elisha and proclaimed, "Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel" (v.15). He also promised that he would "never again make burnt offerings and sacrifices to any other god but the Lord" (vv.16-17). What a wonderful thing the Lord did for Naaman, and what a fitting response on Naaman’s part in giving honor and praise to the Lord!
As I read through this story recently, I was especially struck by the person who initiated the sequence of events that led to Naaman’s healing. According to verse 2, "…bands from Aram had gone out and had taken captive a young girl from Israel, and she served Naaman’s wife. She said to her mistress, ‘If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.’" The faith, hope and encouragement of this young, captive, servant girl provided the spark for Naaman’s healing. This girl encouraged Naaman’s wife, who apparently in turn encouraged Naaman, who in turn shared with the king of Aram, who was more than glad to send Naaman to the king of Israel and ultimately to Elisha. And the end result of it all was that Naaman was healed of leprosy, he turned away from false gods, and he recognized and praised the God of Israel as the only true God.
What a tremendous ripple effect this young servant girl put into motion! She was confident that the Lord would heal Naaman through the prophet Elisha, and her faith was not disappointed! Can you imagine her joy, and the joy of Naaman’s wife, when news of Naaman’s healing reached his household?
Something that makes this girl’s faith and encouragement even more impressive is that such healings were not occurring during that time. Near the beginning of His ministry, Jesus commented that "…there were many in Israel with leprosy in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed – only Naaman the Syrian" (Luke 4:27). Naaman stands out as the exception. This girl believed Naaman could be healed of leprosy even when other lepers were not receiving such healing. It is quite possible that even Naaman would not have been cleansed and healed except for the faith of this young girl.
I believe one of the reasons the Lord includes verses such as the one about this young girl is to remind us of how He works through people to bless other people. He works through our faith, our prayers, our words of encouragement, our good deeds, our testimony, our service and so forth. He allows us the privilege of being instruments for noble purposes (2 Timothy 2:21), ministers of His grace (1 Peter 4:10). Although we may not at present be able to understand the full impact that our faith and deeds will make, we can be assured that the Lord is at work through all that we say and do on His behalf. As the Apostle Paul reminds us, the Lord is "…able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us" (Ephesians 3:20). What we say and do can deeply impact others now and for eternity because it is God’s power at work through us.
Of course, the goal of all of this is that God might receive the glory. Although the young servant girl played an important part in Naaman’s healing, Naaman gave all of the glory to God because he knew it was God’s power that brought the healing: "Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel" (v.15). Likewise, as we share the grace and power of God with others and they receive healing, salvation, deliverance, peace, hope, encouragement and so forth, our Lord will receive the glory for it. The Apostle Peter gives us this encouragement: "Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ…" (1 Peter 4:10-11).
Praise the Lord for the opportunity to bless the lives of others with His grace and power! We should be careful to not underestimate the potential impact of a word of encouragement we share, a prayer we offer, a testimony that we give, or a good deed that we do. Our Lord is willing, able and faithful to work through all that we do for others on His behalf. Just look at what He did for Naaman through a spark provided by a young servant girl!
I encourage you, therefore, to press on in the Lord’s work. Our "labor in the Lord is not in vain" (1 Corinthians 15:58), but "at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up" (Galatians 6:9).