A Balm in Gilead

Sandy Kirby Quandt

There is a balm in Gilead, so the African-American slave song says.

Healing. Comfort. It soothes the weary soul. The words of the song are a mix of hope amidst despair, faith amidst great trial, and strength against all odds.

We might think of balm as a soothing ointment, and it is. A balm is also the healing God makes available to each of us. Just as medicinal ointment can reduce pain and heal wounds, so can God’s love.

As far back as I can remember my Aunt Ann used an ointment, Resinol, a balm if you will, on just about any skin condition you could imagine.

This stuff is the best. It has a funky smell I happened to like. Smells sort of like a campfire.

The uses for Resinol include protection for diaper rash, cuts, scrapes, burns; relief from pain and itching associated with minor skin irritations; insect bites, poison ivy, sunburn, minor burns. I’m sure I’ve left something out.

During the prophet Jeremiah’s time Jeremiah asked, rather rhetorically, “Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there?”

You see, Gilead was a mountainous area know for plants and herbs that could produce healing balms. So of course there was balm in Gilead.

But the balm the people truly needed to turn their hearts away from their idolatry and wickedness comes only from God; a  balm they refused to seek.

I believe the same holds true for our world today.

God is the balm that can heal a sin-sick weary world. Not alcohol. Not wealth. Not power. Not fame or anything else we chase after and put before God.

No matter how deep our hurts, even the deepest wound can be healed when we apply God’s balm of love, grace, and power.

Aunt Ann told me about the benefits of Resinol when we visited her, but if the balm had not been applied to my wounds, I never would have experienced its healing. She sold me on the benefits of Resinol for life.

Can we say the same about selling others on the benefits of God’s healing balm?

Leave a comment below to share your thoughts on the subject. If you think others would appreciate reading this, please share it through the social media buttons.

I hurt with the hurt of my people. I mourn and am overcome with grief. Is there no medicine in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why is there no healing for the wounds of my people? Jeremiah 8:21-22 (NLT)

I wish you well.


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