Iron Man, Wonder Woman, Spiderman, Captain Marvel, Daredevil, Superman, Black Widow, Batman, Deadpool, Wolverine, Jean Grey, Black Panther, Luke Skywalker, and even Shazam. More than ever, our society seems obsessed with the story of a hero. For some, their voyage into the hero realm began in 2006 when NBC launched a TV series called Heroes, and the phrase, “Save the cheerleader, save the world” echoed throughout the world. For others, the Marvel Universe and DC introduced countless heroes that grabbed our attention.
The majority of heroes today that dominate our movies, books, and TV shows fall into the “superhero” category. In fact, six of the top ten highest-grossing movies all time tell the story of a superhero (and I did not count the #1 movie Avatar in that category). Today’s heroes tend to possess superhuman powers, mutated abilities, or have access to high-tech equipment, such as armor and weapons, that enables them to accomplish great deeds.
The reality is that those type of heroes do not exist in real life but only in the fictitious worlds of Hollywood and Sci-Fi. However, our world is filled with heroes – unseen, unheard of, unnamed heroes. From first responders, to soldiers, to teachers and coaches, to doctors, to Sunday school teachers, to neighbors, to fellow students, to co-workers, to strangers, and so on. The online Merriam-Webster dictionary defines heroic as “exhibiting or marked by courage and daring.”
As with most stories, the story of Naaman also contains a hero. However, the hero is not Naaman or Elijah. Instead, the hero in this story is an unnamed, little servant girl.
“Now the Syrians on one of their raids had carried off a little girl from the land of Israel, and she worked in the service of Naaman’s wife. She said to her mistress, ‘Would that my lord were with the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.’” (2 Kings 5:2–3)
The hero in the story of Naaman is like so many heroes throughout the ages – unnamed. However, from these two verses, we learn the following:
- She was very young. You can translate the Hebrew word for “little” in terms of size, age, and status. Our servant girl was small, young, and insignificant.
- She had experienced tremendous trauma in her life. One day the girl was playing outside of her small house enjoying our family. The next moment raiders from Syria entered her village, captured her, and carried her off to a distant, foreign land. At a very young age, she was ripped away from her home, her parents, and her friends. Joy and life were replaced with pain and grief.
- She was made a slave. From enjoying childhood to suddenly being forced in slavery, the little girl began working as a servant for Naaman’s wife. She had no rights or freedoms.
In the eyes of the world, she was unknown and insignificant – she was just some little slave girl from a foreign land. She wasn’t a five-star general; she wasn’t a national hero; she didn’t have Barbie dolls made of her that every little girl wanted for their birthday.
Yet, in the eyes of her Heavenly Father, she was mighty; she was heroic. God delights in using “the insignificant” to build His Kingdom. God loves the underdog.
Within this remarkable story of this unknown, little servant girl, she becomes an instrument of God for his great purposes. Even though this little girl endured a horrible ordeal and suffered greatly (taken from her home, made a slave, had all hopes and dreams have been taken away from her), she made the choice to became a messenger of hope in a dark and hurting world – even in a place where she didn’t want to be and even among her enemies.
Some of us might not like the place that we currently occupy. I understand that. I get it. It might suck right now for you. But I assure you, even though we may not know why we are there, God is with us. And like this little slave girl, we too are God’s ambassador wherever we are at.
We can choose to be the message of God’s hope to others, even in foreign, unpleasant places.
Even though she possessed no earthly possessions as a slave, she was rich in at least three things:
- Our servant girl was genuinely concerned about Naaman and his wife. When she learned of her master’s horrible disease, she could have just sat back and remained silent. She could have reasoned that Naaman is getting what he deserved for attacking her people and carrying her and others away. She might have believed that Naaman’s leprosy was God’s judgment against his sins. However, she did not allow her circumstances and situations to create bitterness in her heart. She put off anger, resentment, and bitterness, and put on love, compassion, and genuine concern. Rather than judging her enemies, she loved them through her actions.
- It took courage (a lot of courage!) for her to approach and address Naaman’s wife about his situation. She was brave in telling Naaman’s wife that if he was in Israel, a prophet could heal him. She took a risk. If she had been wrong, it probably would have cost her life. She valued the glory of God and helping others more than her safety and comfort.
- She believed God could heal Naaman, and therefore put actions to her faith. Even though she was just a little, unknown slave girl, she possessed tremendous trust and confidence in her God.
The hero of our story simply lived out her faith, took a risk, and cared about others.
The story of our lives continues to be written. How do we live heroic lives? Just like our unnamed, unknown little servant girl – by loving others, by being strong and courageous, and choosing to walk by faith in God.
How can you be a hero today?
Our world needs heroes who are unknown on earth but known in Heaven!