“There is a Balm in Gilead”

by Christine Sine
pexels photo 1188511

by Jenneth Graser

I recently awoke from a dream – it was the briefest of scenes. I saw Jesus holding a vessel filled with the Balm of Gilead. He was looking so excited and I asked him, “Are you looking forward to using that when you come to earth?” And he responded, “Oh yes, I am!” It was shortly before he was going to be conceived in the womb of Mary and he was thinking about everyone he would heal when he came to earth. I had this dream about a week before Christmas.

This was a very special Advent for me. In fact, we began with our decorations and reflections, including the most beautiful music, in November and decided to keep up our decorations well into January. In fact, our Christmas tree is still sparkling in the lounge. Why would we decide to keep Christmas in our home for so long? Well, it’s been a time we need the story of Christmas so very much. I was also gifted with the Godspace Advent Retreat and used this time for journaling, lighting my candle and joining in creatively with Christine Sine’s suggestions, even with the recommended shawl around the shoulders, though it is summer here. We’ve been having a reasonably cool summer in Cape Town, South Africa. Hot days of course! But also the lovely coolth of a breeze, or an unusual cold front when we don’t usually have rain this time of year. I appreciate the rain and take time to watch it falling on the thirsty ground. I appreciate a recent sight of clouds spilling over from the ocean across the mountains into our valley and filling the valley with moisture, a phenomenon which usually only occurs in Autumn here.

Going back to the dream I had… what an unusual dream to have and such a vivid picture at that. For me to see the anticipation of Jesus as he imagined coming to earth in the womb of Mary, being born and growing up, spreading his healing love wherever he went. This made me think more about the Balm of Gilead, what is it exactly?

“In the Old Testament, Gilead was the name of the mountainous region east of the Jordan River. This region was known for having skillful physicians and an ointment made from the gum of a tree particular to that area. Many believed that this balm had miraculous powers to heal the body. In the book of Jeremiah, God tells the people of Israel that though many believe in the mysterious healing power of this balm, they can’t trust in those powers for spiritual healing or as a relief of their oppression. He reminds them that He is ultimately in control, and only He can relieve their suffering. In the New Testament, God answers the suffering of His people by sending His own son to take our place. Jesus becomes our “balm in Gilead.” It is Him we are called to turn to in our times of trial for healing and comfort. We sing this song with that assurance: no matter our hardships or supposed shortcomings, Jesus loves us enough to take our suffering upon Himself.” (There Is a Balm in Gilead | Hymnary.org)

I remembered hearing a hymn about the Balm in Gilead, and looked it up. It is an African-American spiritual… here are the words:

“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.

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.

Don’t ever feel discouraged,

‘Cause Jesus is your friend,

And if you lack for knowledge,

He’ll not refuse to lend.”

For me, this dream showed me a perspective of Jesus I had never thought about from this particular vantage point. What was it like for Jesus as he left the harmony and love of Heaven, to be transformed into a tiny baby growing in Mary’s womb? To transition from his heavenly body to his earthly body, all for the glory set before him? And for me to see Jesus looking so intently at this balm, which was a sign of his ultimate redemptive power as our Healer? There is no balm anywhere on earth that is able to completely heal us the way that Jesus can. He is the culmination of our every hope, and our true Healer.

The world around us is in desperate need of his healing power. Some of you may have experienced the pandemic more close to home in that you may have contracted the illness, or may have family and friends who were ill and even passed away. Just this past week, my husband’s close friend passed away from Covid and left so many disorientated with grief, thinking about this larger than life caring and loving human being who passed away a few days short of his 50th birthday.

You may also be in need of healing. For we have all gone through a tremendous disorientating change. We have been under lockdowns, and restrictions. People have lost their jobs and their sense of security. We are in need of the healing power of Christ.

A few nights ago, we watched a movie about Mr. Rogers, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. He was one of my childhood favourites. I grew up for part of my childhood in North Vancouver, British Columbia. And when we watched this film, I sometimes found myself in floods of tears. It must have triggered a memory of the calming love Mr. Rogers used to share with his viewers. Of the compassion and acceptance that came through the screen in such a tangible way. But it was also observing him in this film, on his knees praying for people by name, and mentioning them in the presence of the Father.

Let us take time to pray for the people in hospitals… and hospices, and in homes who are struggling with illness and those who are caring for them. Let us take time to intercede on behalf of those who are struggling to take a breath, or who are feeling that life is being taken from them too soon. Let us pray for Jesus, the true Balm of Gilead, to anoint each one.

Prayer practice:

Take some olive oil, coconut oil or any other base oil you may have in your home. If you have some lavender essential oil, or an essential oil blend, you may use this as well. Place some drops of oil in the palms of your hands and as you rub your palms together, you can say this prayer:

Jesus, you are the Balm of Gilead,

You anoint my wounds.

You are the Great Healer,

I invite you into my wounds.

Holy Spirit, your presence is here.

Holy Spirit, your presence is here.

I anoint myself with the healing of Christ,

I anoint myself with the healing of Spirit,

I anoint myself with the healing of Father.

I pray for my needs and the needs of my family,

I pray for my needs and the needs of my friends,

I pray for my needs and the needs of the world.

Be anointed with Shalom Peace,

Be anointed by Yaweh-Rapha, the God who heals,

Be anointed with the Breath of Spirit,

Be anointed by the embrace of the Father.

Jesus, you are the Balm of Gilead

You anoint my wounds,

You are the Great Healer,

I invite you into my wounds.

Holy Spirit, your presence is here.

Holy Spirit, your presence is here.

Make the bitter waters sweet,

Carry my exhaustion and fatigue,

Heal the worries of my mind.

Enliven my body and my soul,

Carry my grief and my tears,

Pour your balm over the whole world.

Heal the broken-hearted

and bind up our wounds.

Heal the weary

and carry our sins.

Heal the sick

and raise us to life again.

Holy Spirit, your presence is here.

Holy Spirit, your presence is here.


Listen to this healing music while you pray, from Abide:

Listen to Balm in Gilead by Debra Liv Johnson:

Listen to ‘There is a Balm in Gilead’, sung unaccompanied by The Adventist Vocal Ensemble:


Photo from Pexels by Mareefe

Our newest course, Time to Heal Online Course, is available now for purchase! This course provides 5 sessions with Christine Sine, Lilly Lewin, and Bethany Dearborn Hiser each with different approaches and practices to assist in processing grief and healing.

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1 comment

dorothy lindsay February 17, 2021 - 3:49 am

‘ There is a balm in Gilead’- it was a timely and heartwarming message. Thanks so much!

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