“He’s healed.” Mistress was ecstatic. “The prophet in Israel helped heal Naaman. He’s healed! Oh, he’s coming home!”
The home was sent into a flurry of work as Mistress prepared with even more fervor for Master’s return. I was forced to encounter the servants more than usual as Mistress sent me here and there, running errands, delivering messages, and checking things. I hated every single encounter. At best, I received only cold looks and voices. At worst, I was called names and even yelled at. Martha refused to look at me. Rachel told me I had betrayed them every time she saw me. Rebekah looked miserable and wailed that it was all my fault.
If they wanted to make me horribly unhappy, they couldn’t have succeeded better. I felt like crying nearly the entire day. I didn’t eat anything, and I longed to go to bed to be by myself. I felt so lonely and confused. I did what God wanted me to do. So why was I so miserable?
“Dear God,” I prayed again and again, “please help me.”
Just after the mid-day meal, I heard the horns. They were still far away, but Mistress was incredibly excited. With child-like happiness, she waited on the steps, listening and watching. I stayed to the side, wishing I was miles away.
Amid thundering hoof beats and loud blasts from the horns, Naaman came riding forward. He leaped off his chariot and hurried to greet his wife, looking happier than I had ever seen him before.
I felt a horrible ache as I watched him. Why was my enemy reunited with his family while I was forced to serve miles away from home, with no hope of ever seeing my family again?
Loud and lively, dinner was a huge celebration. The fancy food, tasty drinks, and lovely music were better than at any feast I had seen before. Master and his guests stayed up late, and I was glad Mistress went to bed before them. I quietly helped her prepare for bed, then slipped into my room.
As I lay in the dark, staring at the ceiling, I began to cry, like I had so many times before. “Why, God?” I whispered. “Why are you blessing my enemies and leaving your people to serve as slaves here? Why am I being punished for doing the right thing? Why are you letting the people of Aram keep their commander and denying me my family? How is that just?”
I let my tears and questions flow as I tossed and turned. Many times before, I had cried myself to sleep. But not today. Despite working so hard and spending so much time moving around, I couldn’t fall asleep. I felt like there was a burden on my chest, and my heart was heavy. I was tired of—well, of everything. I was tired of living in a foreign land with foreign people and food and customs. I was tired of wondering why I was hated for doing the right thing. I was tired of wondering why God would allow my hopes to be raised and then dashed. I was tired of not belonging, of missing my family, of being alone. “God, why?” I asked over and over again.
Then, as I lay in the dark, sobbing, I felt like everything hit a wall. My wonderings and tears suddenly stopped, and I felt a strange, unexplainable sense of peace wash over me. Solomon’s words came back to me: “In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the LORD will reward you.”*
“God will reward you,” I whispered, the impact of the words slowly sinking in. “God will reward you. God sees your struggles, and your choice to do what was right.” I felt a strange sense of comfort. “God knows. He sees your loneliness and tiredness and tears. He sees it all, and he has promised to reward what is right. I don’t know how and when, but it’s a promise. He has a plan.”
With that promise in my heart, I slipped into a peaceful sleep, something I had not experienced in a long time.
“Elizabeth,” Mistress called. I looked up at her from the corner where I was standing. Mistress and Master had just finished breakfast, and were sitting at the table, talking.
“Yes, ma’am?” I answered.
“Please come here.”
I obeyed quickly, wondering what she wanted. As I stepped in front of the two, Master looked me over with a questioning look on his face. “So, you’re the girl who told my wife about the prophet,” he said. His voice wasn’t stern or proud or deathly serious, like I had expected. I could hear authority in it, which was to be expected, given his occupation, but I could also hear something else. It sounded almost…almost as if he cared.
“How old are you?” Master asked.
“Eleven, sir, almost twelve.”
“And your name is Elizabeth?”
“Where are you from?”
“What brought you to our land?”
I hesitated for just a moment. Would he think I was rude or rebellious if I said it was men from Aram? I had to answer, though. “I was kidnapped and brought here by men from Aram, sir, when I was seven.”
“So you did not want to come here?”
“No, sir.” I was becoming more uncomfortable. Would Master become angry?
“Do you miss your home and family?”
“Yes, sir. Very much. I’d give anything to see them again.” I suddenly felt the urge to cry, and forced myself to hold back the tears. I must get control of myself, I thought.
“Are you aware that you and your fellow Jewish servants would have been released, had I died?”
“And yet you still told my wife about the prophet.” Master looked in interest at me. “Why would you do that?”
I was silent for a moment, trying to organize my thoughts. “I really wanted to go home, sir, just as much as my friends do.” I kept my eyes on the floor and spoke quietly. “But my daddy told me to be kind to my enemies and help them. He said God commands us to do that, and that he will reward us. I didn’t want to tell you, sir, about the prophet, but I knew God wanted me to.”
Master thought for a moment. “When I was healed of leprosy—something that should not have been possible—I realized that Israel’s God is the true God. I now serve him.” I looked up at his face for a moment, surprised. “You didn’t have to help; you could have let me die, which most, if not all, of the other servants would have done. You would have been free to go home, and you probably would feel I had been justly treated. But you didn’t do that. You helped me. That is a remarkable trait, Elizabeth. You did what was right, even when I did what was wrong and supported what was wrong.” I was startled, unsure how to handle his thanks and praise. Master continued, “I can no longer keep you as a servant.” My heart began to beat faster. “I now believe in the one true God, and I cannot continue in what is wrong, supporting the kidnapping and enslaving of innocent children. You said you missed your family…” I had never been more excited and terrified to hear what someone said next. “…so I will free you and take you home.”
“Oh, oh, oh,” I burst out. “Yes, oh, yes! Oh!” Joy leapt up within me, growing every second until it broke out in a laugh. Oh! I hadn’t truly laughed in so long! It felt wonderful. “Thank you!”
Master was smiling. “All right, then. We’ll leave this week.”
I nearly danced as Master stood up. Then, I stopped. A thought hit me, and it felt like someone was sucking all my happiness away. “What about the other Jewish servants?” I asked softly.
“What do you mean?” Master asked.
I hesitated a moment, then closed my eyes and whispered, “If my fellow Jews are staying here, then I will stay here, too.”