The scene opens in the foreign country of Syria, north and east of Israel. Syria was a powerful enemy of Israel and this story takes place during a brief period of peace or cease-fire. We are in Damascus, the great and beautiful capital city of Syria. Here we meet the principle character. Naaman was a five star general, a Patton, a MacArthur, a Schwartzkoph; the commander and chief of all the military forces of Syria. He was second only to King Ben Hadad II. We are told that he was a mighty man of valor; a great man held in high regard. He was the king’s right hand man and chief counsel. He was also a man of great wealth. He had a palace in the nicest suburb of Damascus, with a three-chariot garage, stables, servants and all the rest. Having said all this about the man, the last five words of verse 1 change everything, “but, he was a leper.” The impact of those words is like saying he had AIDS. Naaman was as great as the world could make him and yet there wasn’t a soul in Damascus, even the poorest outcast, that would trade skin with him to gain everything else he had. Naaman is a Scriptural picture of the human condition, of you and me. No matter how great or talented, gifted or exceptional, successful, or put together or intelligent, there is a “but” in our life. All of us have our leprosy, our calamity, our crisis, our personal brokenness, most of all our spiritual leprosy, that four-letter word that only has three letters - SIN. Our leprosy is personal and national.
Scripture says that we should honor our fathers and mothers and I want to honor mothers and motherhood today. But I also know that this is an emotional issue for quite a few of us. Some of us no longer have our mothers and we miss them. Some of us had mothers that for whatever reason weren’t very good mothers or failed us, so the subject can be painful. Some of us desperately want to be mothers and that’s especially painful. Our pain and suffering and heartaches are known to God intimately and He is Lord over all our suffering. It’s never meaningless in the hands of our God who makes all things meaningful. In the midst of all these mixed emotions we can still affirm that mothers and motherhood are gifts from God. I want to affirm this morning that motherhood is the highest calling that a woman can have. No career or job on earth takes more diligence, perseverance, hard work, prayer and faith. And there is also no more soul-satisfying labor than raising God-fearing and God-loving children. It is hard work but it is good work. Because it’s hard work I want to preach a word of encouragement this morning to all mothers and to all who aspire to be mothers and to all who play a role in supporting mothers (like aunts and uncles). Galatians 6:9 Let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.