With the mass media and widespread internet access, there has perhaps never before been such an opportunity for people rapidly to become "celebrities". This temptation to seek fame is not new with Jeremiah writing, "And seekest thou great things for thyself? seek them not" (Jer 45.5).
In two articles looking at anonymous young people in Scripture we will consider those who, in contrast with the short term fame of those in the media, have been recorded by God in His eternal Word. In His wisdom, however, the Lord has chosen not to tell us their names. This article looks at young ladies and the next at young men with the same challenge as to our ambition. Would we rather be spoken of well in newspapers or in Gods records? What will be the verdict when the books are opened rather than the blogs? Do we desire to be known on earth for what we did on television, or in heaven for what we did because of spiritual vision?
Naamans wifes maid (2 Kings 5.1-4)
Her circumstances were terrible. She had been born in Israel but spiritually things were in a poor condition and God had judged. Now, having probably witnessed some terrible scenes, she is in a strange country away from home and family. Forced to do menial work, her rights and prospects were non-existent. Further, the head of the family she was serving had a fatal, contagious disease. How did she respond?
She had absolute confidence in God to do the impossible; in v.3 she said that her "lord" would be healed. This statement was made despite there being no contemporaneous precedent for lepers to be cured. There were many lepers at that time but only Naaman was healed (Lk 4.27). She had a care for those whom she could have blamed for her difficulties, desiring the best for Naaman rather than being glad he was suffering. She communicated good news, boldly telling others what she knew to be true. She was not put off by the reaction of those that heard.
It was of little concern should Naamans wife not believe her. It was a man who told Naaman what she had said (v.4), and her faithful witnessing almost started an international war (v.7). God was bringing one of the greatest men of that time to be a true worshipper of Himself but was also giving the most unlikely of youngsters the privilege to be involved. Her faith, love, and desire to witness triumphed over her circumstances and set an example to us.
Jairus daughter (Lk 8.49-56)
Again, humanly speaking, life was tough as, at the age of twelve, she lay suffering. She had no brothers or sisters. Dad was away desperately trying to get help, the crowds were interested elsewhere and, perhaps with the exception of her Mum for company, she died a lonely death.
The Saviour showed His loving interest by leaving the crowd in order to have to have personal dealings with her. Despite Dad being one of the local spiritual leaders, the Lord Jesus went to be with her, spoke to her, and took her by the hand. Good parents or otherwise, she must have personal dealings with God for her life to be transformed.
The Lord Jesus was concerned that she ate. It was a command that she should be fed (v.55), and God is extremely interested in what we are feeding our minds, even including those as young as twelve. Are we as keen to read a Scripture text as we are a phone text? The TV is an easy way to use up an hour, but time spent with the AV (or any other reliable translation of the Bible) will be more beneficial. I will always be grateful that someone (who a few years earlier had been instrumental in my salvation) encouraged me at the age of twelve to start spending the fifteen minutes per day it takes to read the Bible through each year. Would the Lord Jesus approve of what we are feeding our minds?
Her parents were astonished (v.56). They may well have been overjoyed and thankful, but what we are told is that they were stunned. The initial reaction of others, even close relatives, to a life transformed by Christ is not always predictable!
The demon possessed damsel (Acts 16.16-18)
In arriving at Philippi it would have been relatively easy to enjoy the meetings by the riverside. Those attending were keen to learn, and no doubt staying in the comfortable accommodation Lydia provided was pleasant. (vv.12-15).
However, God was also going to save some rather different individuals in that town and the remaining twenty-five verses of the chapter tell of less pleasant experiences for the Christians who were willing to step out of their "comfort zone" to spread the gospel. It all started with this unnamed girl - demon possessed, fortune telling, bringing in plenty of illicit money for others, and regularly shouting at the Christians attending the prayer meeting.
Faced with such an individual it would have taken real understanding of, and faith in, Gods desire to save "the whosoever" to foresee that her salvation was not only possible but a key step in Gods plan for that locality. Her salvation brought some short term problems, but despite the accompanying personal pain and lack of sleep these were faced with cheerfulness and prayer by the Lords servants (v.25).
Her life was transformed as "her masters saw that the hope of their gains was gone" (v.19). She left behind what previously had been her regular habit, those things she had done for "many days". Possibly she along with Lydia and the jailors family were the unlikely start of the assembly at Philippi. While we dont read more about her, one thing is sure. She is an important reminder of how wrong our stereotyping can be of those God may save in our neighbourhood.
Those who directed Saul to Samuel (1 Sam 9.11-14)
Saul was engaged in a futile search for his fathers asses. His servant evidently knew of Samuel by reputation (v.6), and before heading home they decided to stop at the nearby city and enquire of him for directions. The servants confidence was well placed as Samuel was able to tell them the asses were safe. Rather more surprising was Sauls being treated honourably and anointed king before they left.
Finding the prophet would prove rather easier than the three days they had just spent looking for the asses, as, crucially, there were some young ladies who were able to point them exactly on their way (v.12-13). This incident contrasts with the evil woman from Endor at the end of Sauls life who also directed him to Samuel (1 Sam 28), illustrating that age alone is not an indicator of how good a spiritual influence someone may be.
The young ladies in 1 Samuel 9 were engaged in a common task (carrying water) but were well aware of the prophets movements and the local spiritual activities (v.12,13). They could not have failed to notice the outstanding physique of Saul (v.2), but their reaction to the tall, handsome stranger was not to engage in idle chat but to encourage him to go quickly on his way to see the prophet (v.13). Little did they know that the meeting of Samuel and Saul was a divine appointment (Samuel had been told the time to expect Saul - vv.15-17), and it would be a significant point in Israels history. Sauls dependence on the timely help and encouragement of these young girls illustrates how importance is not the same as prominence.
The Scriptures have many examples (Hannah, Mary, Anna etc.) of how ladies gave worship that was important and precious to God without it being publicly prominent. Twenty-nine times Scripture uses the phrase "his mothers name was" to record an often unfamiliar name. In these and many more instances sons were more prominent than their mothers but were moulded by that mothers immeasurably important influence.
God delights to use what is looked down on by the world to accomplish His purposes (1 Cor 1.27) and does not require us to be prominent in order to be significant in these purposes.
The hymn writer has well written:
I would not have the restless will
That hurries to and fro,
Seeking some great thing to do
Or secret thing to know;
Content to fill a little space
If thou be glorified
To be continued.