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The Nameless Maid Who Made Significant History
“The happiest women, like the happiest nations, have no history” (George Eliot). But many of the happy—and unhappy unknown Bible women left their impact upon history.
She remains nameless, even though she influenced one of the most captivating stories of faith. She may have been too young and naïve to be concerned with personal recognition, but she was not too young to show concern--a trait of individuals with great influence.
She was a maid who shared a suggestion with her mistress. Her idea climbed the protocol ladder until it reached the ultimate authority figure—the king, who decided to act on it. The proposal was effective and resulted in national significance. The story was recorded in a Book with universal appeal, but her name was not mentioned.
And the Syrians had gone out on raids, and brought back captive a young girl from the land of Israel. She waited on Naaman’s wife. Then she said to her mistress, “If only my master were with the prophet who is in Samaria! For he would heal him of is leprosy.” (2 Kings 5: 2, 3 NKJV)
In her story, four positive characteristics--control, compassion, stature and faith, among others, stand out for individuals of all ages to imitate. The sum total of their impact is this: we make the most of our lives by spreading our influence for good to benefit others, not by listing our performances for personal identity.
Whether or not anyone cared enough to document the slave girl’s identity, she knew who she was. Her control over her situation put her in control of her master’s.
Taken captive in war, she could have surrendered to self-pity, homesickness and defiance toward those who captured her. Instead, she remained open to the opportunity for service. She did not allow her plight to rob her of her religious conviction. No capture could rob her of the opportunity to maximize her influence.
How different could the outcome have been if she had shut the world out because she was treated unfairly? Her identity was not even a factor in the control she swayed over this situation.
Respect, loyalty and dependability are qualities required in people who serve. In fact, workers receive recognition based on these and similar merits. Compassion is not usually a part of the job description. It certainly would not be for one who is forced to serve. Still, the slave maid offered it.
According the Pulpit Commentary, there were varying degrees of leprosy. Namaan’s leprosy might have been in an earlier stage which did not prevent him from performing in the king’s court or on the battlefield, but it could advance to a worse stage in the future. The possibility of the threat to his social acceptance and his career might have put fear on his countenance, and the maid was privy to his dilemma.
Compassion is powered by love, and love cannot help but express itself regardless of how deserving the recipient is or is not.
How can a slave girl persuade an entire household to follow her suggestion in a matter as serious as the master’s health? Obviously, they sensed that she was honest and dependable. Her moral stature radiated from the inside out.
They were convinced that their interest was her concern; and that Elijah—the prophet in Samaria, could heal Naaman’s leprosy.
Her influence extended far beyond that household. Mackintosh Macakay presents her in Bible Types of Modern Women as a role model for today’s youth, teaching them what faith and love can do, even in the young. He further states:
“I have called her the first girl guide, and I think she was that, for in the first place she was a guide to Naaman, a guide to him to those waters of blessing in which alone he could find healing. And in the second place, she evidently belonged in spirit to that sisterhood who believes in doing a kind action every day.”
For the Children
The captive maid’s conduct...is a strong witness to the power of early home training.
— Ellen White.
The God of the Israelites was not worshipped in the Syrian household where the young girl was placed. Yet, she maintained her faith in Him. The result was Naaman’s confession: “Indeed, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, except in Israel.” (2 Kings 5: 15 NKJV).
Her faith is a shining example to all, but especially to those who profess faith as followers of God.
- Children and youth can learn from her bravery to speak up about what they believe no matter the social or religious status of the listener.
- Adult helpers (no one should be or feel like a slave) in a household can learn to take genuine interest in the lives of the people they serve. Whatever good they do for others is credited as a deed for God.
- Everyone can learn that there is always opportunity to grow our influence for good, if we maintain control in our circumstances, rather than allow the circumstances to control us.
- Finally, she proves that our faith can influence many who will never hear our names.
Lack of identity does not lessen our worth or our work. Notice that Naaman’s wife is also nameless. Her position as mistress—wife of a rich, powerful man did not raise her significance in this event over the young girl in the position of a slave.
On the other hand, the greater influence was wielded by the young woman in the lesser social status, and that influence overshadowed the identity of everyone in the story.
Influence or Identity? Documenting someone's identity is easy compared with controlling that person's influence.
© 2014 Dora Weithers