I have been sick all week.  Scratchy throat.  Coughing.  Sneezing.  Congestion.  Achy.  Tired.  In a fog.  Seriously, I am a poster child for a cold medicine commercial right now. 

Yesterday when I woke up, I decided I needed to try some different medicine or I would not make it through the hectic day at work that was ahead of me.  So, I rummaged through the medicine in the cabinet and came out with Mucinex-D.

Yes, the medicine advertised on those really gross commercials where the green monster guy named Mr.  Mucus (really, that’s his name) is banished from the sinuses and chest by the miracle drug Mucinex.  Oh, but this wasn’t just Mucinex.  It was Mucinex-D.  For all my decongesting needs too.

I popped two of those pills and within 90 minutes I could tell a big difference.  And I’m not just saying that. 

I promise, I have no desire for a lifetime supply of this stuff to be shipped to my home in return for my rousing endorsement.

But it is a wonder drug, I tell you.

So last night, my husband mentioned that this medicine seemed to be making my cold better.  I quickly told him that it wasn’t better, since I couldn’t go without it.  The medicine was just managing my symptoms.  The cold would have to run its course, but at least this would help me to survive it.

Just managing the symptoms. 

When I said it, I realized what it meant. 

See, it occurs to me that sometimes we do the same thing with our soul-sickness that we do with our head colds.

We manage the symptoms.

We try a little behavior modification.  A little distraction.  We find a few things that temporarily anesthetize the pain.  Sometimes even a little more church stuff seems to do the trick. 

But the wounds are still there.  The sickness remains.  The disease still causes pain.  We don’t really get better.  It might appear that way to some people.  But we know we’re still not healed. 

Some of us have not been well for quite some time.  In fact, some of us have never really known health because the wounds were inflicted so early on.  We’ve just managed them for so long that we don’t even realize how deep they’ve gone, how they affect everything else in our lives.

They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious.  “Peace, peace,” they say, when there is no peace.  (Jeremiah 8:11)

But God desires healthy, whole children.  He desires our peace, our shalom.  In fact, that’s why He came and walked among us.

It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.  (Luke 5:31)

Sometimes we think this stuff will just run its course, like my cold, so it’s better to just try to survive it.  We manage the symptoms and ignore the root of the problem.  Meanwhile, our souls are crying out for healing.

I pray that this is received in the spirit in which I am writing it – you need to know that God wants to heal you.  He offers more than just a spiritual Band-aid or decongestant.  The life offered to us in Christ is more than just pain management.  God offers healing.  Complete healing. 

Make no mistake, it might require some heart surgery.  Or even some amputation.  It might require some painful therapy and rehabilitation.  And if a broken bone wasn’t set originally, it will have to be broken again to heal properly.  It will take time.  But you will learn how to walk again.  You will learn how to trust again.  And you will learn how to love again.

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.  (Psalm 147:3)

The Old Testament tells us that Gilead was part of the land given to Israel, and it was known for its exports of balm to other lands (New International Bible Dictionary, 391).  I don’t think it’s a coincidence that it was also the site of Jacob and Esau’s reconciliation (Genesis 32:22-33:11). 

There is an old spiritual that speaks to the metaphor used later in Scripture for this place:

“There is a balm in Gilead
To make the wounded whole;
There is a balm in Gilead
To heal the sin sick soul.”

Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits – who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.  (Psalm 103:2-5)

You were created for more than just pain management. 

I pray you’d let the Balm of Gilead make you whole. 

I am the Lord who heals you.  (Exodus 15:26)