There Is a Balm in Gilead

Open Your Bible

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

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.

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104 thoughts on "There Is a Balm in Gilead"

  1. Christine Nelson says:

    There is a Balm of Gilead!!!

  2. Judy Thigpenn says:

    A lady from the church I use to pastor died last week from Covid, what a hard time and grief is real but to know that Jesus is that balm that we need in this time brings comfort.

  3. Dori Bean says:

    This study couldnt be more appropriate as our lives are turned upside down due to covid-19. Praise God for his promises!

    1. Colleen Maciag says:

      I was thinking the same exact thing Dori!

  4. Whitney KnoxMcDaniel says:

    Read this on March 20, 2020 in the middle of the COVID19 pandemic. What beautiful timing to be reminded there is a Balm in Gilead, and that our hope is in Jesus Christ alone

    1. Erin WilsonAnderson says:

      Same here! Read on March 21, 2020 and feel encouraged despite the situation..

    2. Julia Hagen says:

      Same here! Just read it this evening. Reminding myself to put our hope on our Lord.

  5. Rachel Potter says:

    Thanking God for the blessing of feeling that balm working in my life. Seeing the growth and healing take place has placed hope and joy in my heart where there used to be bitterness and fear. I am thankful to be on the road to healing and to be filled with hope for what is to come.

  6. Avis DeniseGraves says:

    Still grieving the loss of my pastor, acknowledging the healing power of the Balm…

  7. Emily Harwood says:

    Having my step father pass away from cancer 7 years ago, I know this pain. It’s still hard sometimes to understand. Now that my husband and I are facing infertility, I’m experiencing grief in a new way and praying for the balm of Gilead in our lives.

  8. Claire Beekman says:

    Thank you for this devotional. I have grieved lo loved ones