Age has never been a barrier for God in using a person for His purpose. Think of Joseph, Samuel, Josiah, David, Timothy…and the list goes on.
Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 4:12, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young…”. No…age is not a barrier. It’s the heart that counts. That’s what God said to Samuel when he was sent to anoint David, “Man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)
So allow me to introduce you to someone else.
She was young. We don’t know how old. We don’t even know her name. She’d been kidnapped…taken from her home by raging marauders…carried off to Aram (Syria) and taken to a foreign land. The date is approximately 850 B.C.
Far from home, separated from her family…powerless, hopeless…resigned to a life as a slave-girl working in the service of the wife of Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Syria. We read her story in 2 Kings 5.
Imagine yourself being put in this situation. How might you feel? Scared? Lonely? Forgotten? Angry? Bitter? Perhaps feelings of hatred towards your captors? I’d hazard a guess at all of these and more.
Naaman was a powerful man. He was respected, brave, and a valiant warrior who had risen through the ranks to become the second most powerful man in Syria. His Hebrew name meant “pleasant and beautiful” but Naaman couldn’t have been further removed from either of these attributes. He was struck with leprosy, an infectious, ugly, disfiguring skin disease that had no hope for a cure.
Whilst living in Naaman’s home, this young slave-girl went about her daily tasks, serving her master’s wife and attending to domestic chores. Her mind regularly wandered to her family home in Israel, wondering if she’d ever be reunited. In verse three of chapter five, we are given an insight into her faith in YAHWEH, the One True and Living God of Israel. And when the opportunity presented itself, this young girl, a stranger in a foreign land, seized the opportunity to speak of her God.
Staying silent would have been easy. What did she owe Naaman? Saying nothing would have been a form of revenge. Surely then he would have got what he deserved? Why bother? Why care? After all, Naaman was her captor. But willing to set to one side her bitterness at being held captive, her compassionate heart won the day. Aware of Naaman’s suffering, and sensitive to his distress and hopelessness, this young girl had faith that her God could heal him. And so she spoke.
“If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy” (2 Kings 5:3, NIV).
What she was proclaiming was that the God she worshipped was powerful…and could heal! She trusted her LORD enough that if Naaman acknowledge Him, then God would heal Naaman of his leprosy.
Don’t you just love that?! She didn’t give some complicated theological defence or long-winded testimony. Her words were not clever or unnecessarily eloquent. They certainly were not the words of a wise adult. But rather the simple faith-filled words of a little girl, held captive in a foreign land, who dared to speak of her God.
I would encourage you to read the rest of the story for yourself. But here is a little spoiler. Naaman is healed…but better yet…he is saved. A Gentile becomes a worshipper of the God of Israel, proclaiming, “Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel.” (2 Kings 5:15)
All of this occurred because a young girl decided to speak up.
As I reflect on the story of this young girl, I find myself realising that, like her, we too live as foreigners. We belong to God’s kingdom, but we live in the world. And we’re called to live out this identity…to live as God’s people wherever He has placed us.
And that means serving and loving others, modelling and demonstrating God’s love to a broken world full of broken people. Speaking up on behalf of God…telling others of the God we know…of the God who so loved the world that He sent His one and only Son.
And like the girl in the story of Naaman, age is no barrier to be used by God.
So, which young person can you encourage today? Which child or teenager could you pray for? Call them or text them. Send them a note. Let them know age is no barrier. Let them know you’re praying that they would know that God wants to use them.