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. Angie Cain says:

    I have a husband with health issues and I am appreciative of your article. It points out that we do go through hard times. It doesn’t mean God has abandoned us. He goes through it with us.

  2. Caitlyn Lloyd says:

    This was such a good read really needed this