Today I read the story of Naaman in 2 Kings 5:1-19. I won't write it out here as it's long, but what I say below might not make sense without reading it.
I was really struck by two things:
- Naaman, the king of Aram (where Naaman lived) and the king of Israel (where he went to get help) all assumed that anyone powerful enough to heal Naaman of leprosy would be, at least, known to the king. Presumably, they would be someone in the control of the king - so that asking the king for help was the way to get their help. But Elisha wasn't anything to do with the government hierarchy. Perhaps he was somewhere close to it (as he knew that the king had gotten super-upset at receiving the king of Aram's letter), but maybe not - that could have been widespread knowledge, after all. And the king certainly didn't know enough about Elisha to know to send Naaman to him.
- the servant girl (who was Jewish), knew that her God would help her master, if he just got to the person God worked through.
I find the second point particularly interesting. We often act like God provides specific material help to Christians, but that non-Christians only get the generic help of 'the rain falls on the just and the unjust'. Which means I'm often uncertain how to pray for non-Christians in need of actual help. This story encourages me to pray for them in the same way I pray for Christians.
But the first point is also interesting, too, in terms of how God's agents are primarily in His control, and may or may not otherwise occupy the positions we expect.
I'm also fascinated that Naaman asks for a large quantity of earth to take back with him. I presume this is to do with the idea that gods are associated with particular locations. Now that Naaman wants to worship the God of Israel, he wants to take a bit of Israel back home with him to enable him to do that!