Sunday, November 26, 2017

Balsam {When Christmas Is Hard}

By Jennifer Smith

There is a tiny little mountain town in North Carolina called Balsam. Is it even a town? I’m not sure because *blink* and you’ll miss it. If your eyes are open, however,  you’ll see nothing but pines as you pass through, the road curving around the mountainside full of evergreens. There was never a town more aptly named.

To me balsam means green and pine and Christmas and sacred. It’s snow white and wintergreen. It’s past and present. It’s fresh and still. It’s ancient and pure.

Balsam is as old as time. For centuries the world has used this plant for medication to heal and oil to anoint. It was precious to the Hebrew people and it is believed the Queen of Sheba brought the sweet fragrance from its leaves to King Solomon as a luxurious gift.

You may have heard balsam called by another name:  “The Balm of Gilead”.

The Balm of Gilead was prized for its medicinal use and it’s ability to clean and treat wounds.

This sounds like miraculous stuff, yes?

A balm made of balsam to clean and restore and to just smell sweet.

In fact there is an entire hymn devoted to the stuff. Sing along with me:

There is a balm in Gilead
To make the wounded whole

I’ve got wounds. And it seems that at Christmastime my wounds are more pronounced. The lack of lost loved ones and strained relationships and sorrowful experiences are hot with a white heat this time of year. Why does Christmas, a time of joy, seem to highlight times of sorrow?

The prophet Jeremiah cries out in Jeremiah 8:22, “Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there?”

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.

Yes, Jeremiah, there is a Healer.

The balsam is green with Christmas, dear reader, but the Balm glows brighter with healing.

Lean in and listen as our hymn continues:

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

You don’t have to live this Christmas with your wounds of sin and sorrow overtaking ideas like joy and hope and comfort. There is a Balm that can tend to your wounds.

A Healer, a Physician. He is Jesus.

This morning some of my wounds came to mind. I felt the pinch of anger rise up inside my chest. I felt the tears form. But then…

But then I remembered what I just wrote to you. I thought of my Jesus and suddenly the anger subsided and the tears receded. I am wounded, but He makes me whole. Moment to moment I ask for the sweet medicine that is Him and He gladly attends to my hurts.

So today, as we begin this Christmas season, let’s remember the Balm of Gilead and how He makes the wounded whole:

His presence comforts (The LORD is close the the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18)
His promises sustain (You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. James 5:8)
His sacrifice saves (Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved. Mark 16:16)

I think God felt great delight when His very own Son was compared to a Christmas tree. Because as sure as the balsam is fresh and sweet and good, so is the presence of Jesus.

No comments:

Post a Comment