10 OCTOBER 2022 - Gospel Opportunities in Adversity


Naaman was a Syrian military commander and highly favoured by the king. But he harboured a dreaded secret – he had leprosy. Leprosy was a highly contagious disease in the Old Testament time. A person with leprosy would be banished, become physically deformed, and spent his life in isolation with other lepers. Naaman was on top of the world as he led the Syrian army’s victory over Israel. All of a sudden, all that he had achieved, was taken away in a moment by the discovery of leprosy on his skin. A patch of white spot made Naaman realized just how fragile and fleeting things were.


Within the story of Naaman, there was another story, a 14 year old Israelite servant girl who was kidnaped from her hometown and sold as a slave to Naaman’s household. In the midst of his suffering, his 14 year old slave girl, opened a gospel opportunity for him: “Would that my lord were with the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.” (2 Kings 5:3)


Naaman’s pain brought him to the God of Israel: Notice that Naaman did not look for God but for a cure to his leprosy. He was willing to pay the prophet Elisha 340 kg of silver, 66 kg of gold, and ten changes of clothing (today’s worth around SGD 5.4 million dollars), to cure him of leprosy. However, he was in for a rude shock. Firstly, Elisha did not meet him personally, but he communicated through his servants. Secondly, Naaman was told to dip seven times in the Jordan river which was often murky. Naaman was very insulted and left. His servants managed to convince him to try what the prophet Elisha had advised, there was nothing to lose. Naaman took the plunge and dipped seven times in the murky Jordan river. At the seventh dip, he was completely healed. He came back to Elisha saying: “Behold, I know that there is no God in all the earth but in Israel … for from now on your servant will not offer burnt offering or sacrifice to any god but the Lord.” (2 Kings 5:15,17). Instead of talking about his cure, Naaman talked about God. There was a clear conversion to the God of Israel from his miraculous healing. In his search for a cure, Naaman was led to something even greater than the cure itself, a relationship with God himself. God had a much bigger purpose in his pain.


A slave girl’s pain brought her to care for her master: She is the unnamed hero of this story. How would you respond to the person who was responsible your captivity and slavery in his house? Many would have clapped their hands and cheered: “Serves him right. Let us watch his suffer.” She genuinely cared about him. As such, she introduced him to the prophet Elisha. Remarkably, she had forgiven him and had compassion on him. Her suffering became the means of Naaman’s salvation. If she had not been a slave in Naaman’s household, he would have never heard about Elisha, and would have died of his leprosy not knowing God. In the same way, God can use the suffering of believers to point the Naamans of this world to salvation in Christ. Are you willing to allow your suffering become a means of salvation of others? Will you say, “God, use me?”


Rev. Dr Timothy Chong