As I sit here in the quietness of my study this morning two Afro-American spirituals are humming within me. Have you ever had that experience when suddenly a song pops into your head and you wonder why and from whence it comes?
“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.”
“When the storms of life are raging, stand by me. When the world is tossing me, like a ship upon the sea, thou who rulest wind and water, stand by me. In the midst of tribulation, stand by me. When the host of hell assail, and my strength begins to fail, thou who never lost a battle, stand by me. In the midst of faults and failures, stand by me. When I’ve done the best I can, and my friends misunderstand, thou who knowest all about me, stand by me. When I’m growing old and feeble, stand by me. When my life becomes a burden, and I’m nearing chilly Jordan, O thou Lily of the Valley, stand by me.
Is there a balm in Gilead, an ointment to relieve our discouragement? Is there Someone to stand by us when the storms of life are raging—when tossed about, in tribulation, when hell assails, in the midst of faults and failures, and in and through the passing of the years?
In the quietness of this morning, in a world of suffering, anxiety and hurt, with the words and the tunes of these two spirituals singing within me, I sense “There is a balm in Gilead,” and there is Someone who stands by me (and you). God is a person, and in the deep of God’s mighty nature God thinks, wills, enjoys, feels, loves, desires and suffers just as we do. God communicates with us through the avenues of our minds, our wills and our emotions. God breaks through in the words and the tunes humming within my mind. God is just as discouraged as I am, but God presses on with God’s dream. God is tossed about too, and lives in the midst of tribulation WITH me and WITH you. It is because God is in it all with us that we discover there is a balm in Gilead and there is Someone who stands by us in all that we experience as we trod the trail of life.