NOTE: This is the second in a series based on the Balm in Gilead.
“Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician here?” Jeremiah 8:22
Well, here we are a full-blown three months into the Pandemic, something we would not have imagined. The first few weeks we were learning about this new enemy, and life was changing around us daily. Lately, the reality has settled in and a certain tiredness and weariness have accompanied that reality.
I find myself longing to go to the grocery store to pick out my own unbruised fruit. And I dream about sharing a basket of warm tortilla chips at lunch with a friend and having a maskless conversation with my neighbor. Oh, and having someone over, and serving a nice dinner out on the deck, taking advantage of these lovely spring evenings. And don’t get me started on not being able to enjoy family and the grandkids like we are accustomed to. Life is different these days, and I’m asking like Jeremiah, “Is there no balm in Gilead?” to get us either through or out of this mess.
Although the balm in Gilead is mentioned in the Scripture only a few times, it has inspired writers for centuries. As dark as Edgar Allan Poe’s writing was, he was a master at Biblical imagery. In his narrative poem, “The Raven,” the narrator is a young grieving, tormented man lamenting the loss of his beloved Lenore. As he sits in desolation one cold December evening, he is visited by the Raven. The narrator begs of his visitor.
“On this home by Horror haunted—tell me truly, I implore—
Is there—is there balm in Gilead?—tell me—tell me, I implore!”
Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”
It’s not a dark, cold December evening. It’s a lovely spring morning, but perhaps it feels like a dark cold place. Perhaps you’re grieving the loss of someone you loved or the loss of some things that really gave meaning to your life. Maybe you’re feeling sad or stressed, and you’re wondering if things will ever get better. Listen, friends, don’t let the Raven perch in your window, especially the window of your soul.
When the Raven said “nevermore,” he brought no hope, just a somber, meaningless non-answer in one word—nevermore. But there is One whose “nevermore” gives us hope.
I invite you to open your Bible and read John 14. Jesus knows what is ahead for Him, and He knows that life is about to change for His followers when He is no longer with them on a day to day basis—accessible to them, working with them, teaching them, and allowing them to see Him at work. So, He spends this chapter preparing them for those changes. He gives them and us a comforting promise in John 14:16 when He says, “I will talk to the Father, and He’ll provide you another Friend so that you will always have someone with you.”
Jesus’ message to us is that nevermore will we be alone or forsaken or without hope. He did not promise lives void of stress or sadness, but He promised us we would not walk through those days without His presence and without hope. When we choose Jesus and His way of living, we are evermore His. Jesus turns nevermore into evermore.
Prayer: Lord, thank you that even when I don’t feel your presence, I am still not alone. Help me to know you are with me. Help me to listen and know your comforting voice. Help me feel the balm of Gilead today. In Jesus’ name, Amen.