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Is there a Balm in Gilead?

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The unbearable pain of Jeremiah rises to the surface in this section. His spiritual agony was triggered by the revelation of Judah’s impending destruction, national corruption, complete desolation, and ruthless deportation.

A. Impending Destruction (8:18–9:1).

Jeremiah experienced a sorrow beyond healing because of the revelations of future judgment. He seemed to hear a dialogue between the future captives and God. The former questioned why God, if he really lived in Zion, would permit the city to fall. The Lord responded by pointing to the chief cause, viz., the idols by which they had “provoked” him to wrath. The future exiles responded with a complaint of unfairness. They felt that they were continuing to suffer even after the harvest of judgment was past (8:18–20).

The despair of the people caused Jeremiah to despair. The wound of Zion was deep. No medicine (balm) or physician could heal her. Jeremiah wished that he could produce an inexhaustible supply of tears so that he might lament the inevitable doom of his people (8:21–9:1).

Jeremiah speaks

of them when he writes, “Is there a balm in Gilead?”

This is a lament over Israel. She had gone away from

God. She had passed up every opportunity to repent and to

turn from their sins. Now only the judgment of God awaited

her. It is in this context that Jeremiah laments over the

condition of God’s people.

It should also be noted that Gilead was famous as a place

of healing. In this mountainous region east of the Jordan

River there grew a certain kind of tree from which they

extracted an oil that was famous for its soothing and healing

qualities. So, Gilead became synonymous with healing. It

was to that day what the Mayo Clinic or M.D. Anderson

Hospital are to us. If there was no healing there, then there

was no hope.

There is an obvious answer to Jeremiah’s questions, “Is

there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there?” “

Yes! Yes there is a balm in Gilead. Yes, there is a physician

there.” The problem was not the lack of healing and help;

the problem was the lack of application.

In days of sorrow and sadness and loss like this, we are

apt also to have these same feelings of hopelessness and

despair. We are apt to cry out with Jeremiah, “Is there no

balm in Gilead? Is there no one to help us in this time of

sorrow?” And the answer comes back from the word of

God, “Yes, yes even in a time of sorrow and heartache, there

is hope and healing that God can bring.”

Let me suggest six healing helps God gives to us. They

are:

• The Healing Balm of Thanks

• The Healing Balm of Talk

• The Healing Balm of Tears

• The Healing Balm of Time

• The Healing Balm of Touch

• The Healing Balm of Trust

 

God brings help and healing when His people turn to Him.

 

 

First, thanksgiving is a healing balm. To keep an attitude of gratitude helps. As you relive the

memories of your loved one, focus more on what you had

than what you have lost and it will help you through the

holidays.

It is amazingly simple and simply amazing that when we develop an attitude of grastitude – God uses it.  God blesses you when you are thankful and you bless God in being thankful.

Open Your Heart

Second, talk is a healing balm. Find someone — it need

not be a professional — with whom you can share your

feelings. It may be your pastor or just be a friend; as long

as it is someone in whom you have confidence, someone

you trust, someone who will understand and who is wise.

Catherine Marshall, after the death of her husband, said

she finally saw that “tightly closed hands are not in a position

to receive anything — not even comfort. It matters not

whether they are hands clenched in rebellion or just piteously

trying to clutch the past.

“We must open our hands and our hearts to receive help

that is available. We can’t receive unless we’re willing to

share, willing to open our hands and hearts to others.”

Its OK To Cry

Third, tears are a healing balm. Moreover, it is okay. Tears are a legitimate expression

of the emotion of grief. If it is okay to laugh when you are

happy, then it is okay to cry when you’re sad.

·       John 11:25-27 – of course, often this is referred to as the shortest verse in the Bible.  The tears of Jesus reveal His feelings for others.  We are never more like Jesus than when we seek to bring comfort and hope to those who need the Lord through loss, through illness, even through sin.

Fourth, time is a healing balm. To lose a loved one is much like recovering from surgery or the healing of a broken

bone. Healing does come in time. However, the deeper the

wound or the more serious the break, the longer it takes.

Moreover, the scar will remain forever.

Fifth, touch is a healing balm, i.e., reaching out to

others in friendship and service. When you have lost a loved

one the temptation is to slip into self-pity, to become

introspective, to become antisocial. Nevertheless, fight that

tendency.

Above all, avoid being alone on the actual holiday if

possible. When your grief is deep and very painful, you

may want to avoid others. Sitting alone during the holidays

makes you even more miserable. Reach out and touch

someone. It will help.

 

 

Finally, trust is a healing balm. Turning to God and  putting your faith in him is the greatest help of all.

Communicating with him will bring a source of peace and

strength that you cannot find in any other way.

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