Day 2

There Is a Balm in Gilead

from the Hymns of Hope reading plan

Jeremiah 8:18-22, Luke 7:1-10, 1 Peter 2:24

BY Guest Writer

Scripture Reading: Jeremiah 8:18-22, Luke 7:1-10, 1 Peter 2:24

I hadn’t ever experienced the heartwrenching presence of cancer until my grandmother was diagnosed a little over two years ago. She was 92 years old, and the cancer took over her body quickly. After her diagnosis in May, she declined rapidly throughout the summer, until my mother called one Friday to tell me it was over. She passed away in early September—Labor Day weekend, my senior year of college. I can still remember my best friend, who’d heard the news before I did, bringing me a cup of coffee and sitting with me in my tiny bedroom apartment while I cried.

Throughout that entire summer when my grandmother was sick, my family was already grieving. We were grieving the loss of her independent lifestyle, and the spunk with which she talked about her friends and family. We were even grieving her ability to make the best macaroni and cheese we’d ever eaten.

Is there no balm in Gilead?
Is there no physician there?
So why has the healing of my dear people
not come about?
—Jeremiah 8:22

When sickness and death invade our comfortable lives, we can find ourselves wondering where to turn. Like Jeremiah, we find ourselves questioning when the healing will come. We pray, we lament, we cry out for help.

Grief hits in ways we don’t anticipate. It’s the macaroni and cheese tasting just a little bit off on Thanksgiving, even though it’s the same recipe. It’s slow Sunday afternoons that feel empty without phone calls to talk about Alabama football. It’s crying in the candy aisle over a bag of Hershey’s Kisses because there was always a bowl of them on her coffee table. Grief is hard. But grief is an appropriate response to pain—it shows that something matters. When something hurts, it’s important to lament it.

But because of Christ, our lamenting doesn’t have to last forever. We don’t have to put our hope in earthly healing. When the pianist played this melody at my grandmother’s memorial service, I openly wept—not necessarily out of grief, but out of gratefulness for the healing balm found in Christ.

There is a balm in Gilead
to make the wounded whole,
there is a balm in Gilead
to heal the sin-sick soul.

Because of Christ, there is healing. There is hope. There is comfort for the sick, both spiritually and physically. Christ’s sacrifice on the cross gives us new life in Him. By His wounds, we have been healed of our sin (1 Peter 2:24). Christ, the ultimate Healer, bandages our hearts and mends our broken souls.

There Is A Balm In Gilead
Traditional Spiritual

There is a balm in Gilead
to make the wounded whole,
there is a balm in Gilead
to heal the sin-sick soul.

Sometimes I feel discouraged
and think my work’s in vain,
but then the Holy Spirit
revives my soul again.

There is a balm in Gilead
to make the wounded whole,
there is a balm in Gilead
to heal the sin-sick soul.

If you cannot preach like Peter,
if you cannot pray like Paul,
you can tell the love of Jesus
and say, “He died for all.”


Ellen Taylor was born and raised in sweet home Alabama, but has called Nashville home since 2013. When she’s not working as the editorial assistant at She Reads Truth, you can find her enjoying good food and good conversation with her friends and family. She is a lover of iced coffee, ugly dogs, and the Oxford comma.

Post Comments (104)

104 thoughts on "There Is a Balm in Gilead"

  1. Joni Shuler says:

    This was a wonderful read. My husband has been diagnosed with cancer and to be honest its killing our marriage. Im trying to be strong. And be strong for our daughter but its tough. Im struggling.

    1. Emily Cook says:

      Praying for you and your marriage, Joni!

    2. Davina Pereira says:

      Jesus, thank you for ministering to this marriage.

    3. Martha Echandy says:

      Hi Joni. I don’t know if you’ll get to read this, but I know what it is to be in that hard place where your husband is struggling. Know that He is taking care of him and you too. He is our hiding place, in those strong arms where we feel safe and understood and where we receive his never ending peace.

  2. Sarah NicoleJustiss says:

    This one hit so close to me. My grandmother passed away recently. Just this past week I made cauliflower soup, which I had promised to make her the next time I visited. That next time I visited was when she passed away. I hadn’t made it since then, and I just broke down and sobbed. It is a good reminder that while her physical body is gone, her soul was made whole with the Father. This was something I needed to hear so deeply! ♥️

  3. Kayleigh says:

    I chose to go through this reading plan first for 2019 because I’m in need of a large helping of hope. We miscarried for the second time this past September, and it left me angry. Not at God or anybody…just angry. Cynical. And this post has been a sweet reminder to my soul that even in my running from Him, He didn’t leave me, didn’t stop loving me. He sought me and redeemed me. What hope we have in Jesus!

  4. Kate Fletcher says:

    So thankful to have read this today. A dear friend is losing both her mother and uncle to cancer. This timing of this is divine. I will be re-reading this as often as needed.

  5. Becky Bixler says:

    Thanks from this girl in Alabama!

  6. Madz Caillan says:

    Thank you, thank you so much for this ❤️

  7. Alyssa Ringo says:

    My husband and I are currently struggling with the pain of infertility. This has definitely been a week of discouragement so I needed this hymn so much!

    1. Lynn Michelle says:

      Hang in there, it’s no fun. My husband and I suffered With infertility for years and had help with our first daughter. Then out of the blue we conceived naturally our 2nd daughter. God has a SPECIAL plan just for you according to HIS timing. Try to enjoy life to the fullest each day as you wait.

    2. Tara Chatham says:

      I know that pain and have grieved for many years over the struggle to grow our family. It’s easy to feel that God has forgotten you or simply doesn’t care. I’m praying for you in your discouragement and that you will find peace and encouragement in the truth of God’s word.

      He is good. He is faithful. Just because God can, doesn’t mean He will…but just because God hasn’t, doesn’t mean He won’t.

      Ephesians 3:20-21 brought me peace. “Now to him who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us— to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”

    3. Emilyann Pool says:


  8. Nicole Rannefeld says:

    “Grief is hard. But grief is an appropriate response to pain.”
    My family and I have lost two grandparents (Mommas ma and dads dad) within about three months this year. It is hard to go through the process of grieving twice within such short amount of time. But knowing Jesus griefs with us is truly comforting and He Sees and catches every single tear.

    1. She Reads Truth says:

      We’re so sorry to hear this Nicole. Thanks for sharing with us and our team will be praying for you and your family during this time. -Margot, The SRT Team

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