Soul Balm

“Is the LORD not in Zion? Is her King no longer there?”, the people of Jeremiah ‘s day dared to ask. (Jeremiah 8:19) Dark times have a way of producing honest, probing questions… for prophets…and for us. “The wound [of the one I care for] wounds me too.” (vs. 21 paraphrased) Caregivers care…deeply. We live with painful doubts. Like Jeremiah, we question, “Is there no balm in Gilead?” (vs. 22) No place of relief and deep healing?

A hundred years ago… No. More than that. Much more. African-Americans lived Jeremiah’s desperate question. But they came to experience an answer. Instead of that question : “is there no balm in Gilead”…in painful, dark situations they sang – “There is a balm in Gilead that makes the wounded whole.” Can you hear both their honesty and their faith as their work-weary hearts sang out, “Sometimes I feel discouraged, and think my work in vain, but then the Holy Spirit revives my soul again.”

You can find Mahalia Jackson’s deeply moving, faith-building version of “There Is a Balm in Gilead” on the internet. As you listen, let the Holy Spirit lift the deep, dark places into an experience of trust and confidence.

LORD, help me experience that “balm in Gilead” here in this place today. Amen

Photo courtesy of Ken Jones, copyright 2016

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