A Balm in Gilead

“My joy is gone; grief is upon me; my heart is sick within me… For the wound of the daughter of my people is my heart wounded; I mourn, and dismay has taken hold on me. Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then has the health of the daughter of my people not been restored?” “Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” Jeremiah 8:18,21-22; Psalm 30:5

Upon recently rejoicing, in emotion and joy without description or limits, at the birth of a tiny little life, I have had an exquisite taste of God’s bounty and grace. After immeasurable loss, years of grieving, longing, clinging, and waiting, this gift has been given. Hallelujah. And this cherished gift is received with grateful, careful hands, and the acute awareness of generosity, of the wide mercies of God, of boundless love and sweet healing and a hint of comprehension of His marvelous and mysterious ways. Indeed, I savor and am astounded at the Almighty’s handiwork, I marvel at the unsearchable depth of His riches. His balm is like no other. (Acts 13:41; Romans 11:33)

Jesus on the cross w blood, saucer 18th century

There are no guarantees that in this life we will receive back what we have lost, that we will be healed of the wasting disease, or that all relationships will be reconciled. There is no assurance that on this earth people will dwell together in peace, that perfect justice will be served, that we will live long and happily ever after. But what we know to be true is far greater, broader, deeper, and lasting. The balm God provides and applies is not the aromatic ointment drawn from resin from a flowering plant east of the Jordan River, but the invisible, eternal fragrance drawn from the root of Jesse, the righteous Branch, blood spilled out for us by Jesus on the cross. Our hope, our soul balm, is in Him alone. (Isaiah 11:1-6,9-10; Jeremiah 23:5-6; Romans 5:1-5; 2 Corinthians 2:14)

“There is a balm in Gilead, to make the wounded whole,
There is a balm in Gilead, to cure the sin-sick soul.”  ~Spiritual (1868)

Is not every suffering in this life a result of our sin-sick souls? It is man’s fall that our Savior came to redeem. We long for Eden; our sin and all its effects– our broken dreams, broken communication, broken affections, broken priorities, broken bodies and minds– cry out to be covered in His balm. Through the risen and glorified Jesus, God promises to make all things right in the end. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” In this we have certain hope! (Revelation 21:3-4)

Isn’t our God gracious to give sweet glimpses, the most delicious tastes, of our future glory, in the living, breathing body of a precious new life? (Romans 8:18-21)

Lord of life, thank You for Your gift of new life that pulses with our eternal hope. In You we live and move and have our being, in the present and for all eternity. (Acts 17:28)





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