The topic of essential oils has been trending for some time now. It is even made mention of back in biblical times but then, why wouldn’t it be found there? That’s where most important things are found. It actually comes up in the very first book. 

Genesis 37 asks, “Is there no balm in Gilead?” 

The balm they are referring to is a healing substance produced by a plant which grew around the area of Gilead. In Genesis, as in Ezra, as in Jeremiah, it is described as a medicinal substance which was often used as a gift to be given to those who needed healing.  

Personally, I like gifts, and these claims as to what the balm of Gilead was good for are many. Apparently it had the ability to reduce inflammation, protect the immune system, while eliminating pain. It sped up the healing process, soothed the stomach and detoxified the body. These claims are not unlike those of the essential oils industry today. Many find them soothing for some of the same purposes. 

Even poets made this connection as they wrote about heart matters that mattered.  In the poem “The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe, he refers to a substance that can heal a broken heart. He writes, “Is there—is there balm in Gilead? –tell me—tell me—I implore!” 

“Is there no balm in Gilead; is there no physician there?” Jeremiah refers to a broad-spectrum spiritual healing which could bring restoration.

Is there balm in Gilead and beyond? I vote yes, and let me tell you why.

You see, deep healing can happen…not only on the physical but on the emotional and spiritual levels as well. However, it takes time. Time is an essential ingredient. In order for balm to soak into wounds to bring about the healing needed, it must be given time.

So how does one know which balm is needed and for what purpose? I don’t have all of the answers, but I do know which balm can be used to heal the heart. And, if I were to write a prescription, it would essentially read as follows:

• Sit before God in prayer. This is the first essential balm. I’ve heard it said that the only way to pray…is to pray. He will lead. Open God’s word and let God speak as you are held.

• Confess. Let God take it from you. He so desires to carry. Allow God. He’s much stronger.

• Cycle round and repeat the top two often. “Speak Lord, Your servant is listening” (1 Samuel). It does not read, “Listen Lord, Your servant is speaking.” Be still.

• Receive. As God unclogs the heart valves via confession…your reception becomes clearer. Allow God’s love to move into those areas that have now become unclogged and receive. 

• Hear God tell you how deeply you are loved. Allow yourself to hear God’s still small voice echo throughout the chambers. “You are loved…deeply loved.” I heard it said recently that sin is merely us forgetting how much we are loved. Remembering how deeply God truly loves us is essential. But here’s the thing…if we don’t remember…God doesn’t love us any less. God’s desire is that you know that He does. It’s not about a list of do’s and don’ts. It’s about knowing that we are worthy only because He is worthy. 

• Let God enfold and hold you as you cycle through these.

•Rest…in knowing that God is God and you need not be. Allow God to love you and “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8). 

“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for God who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:23). As God holds fast, God becomes our balm of Gilead. There is nothing that God’s grace cannot cover.  No thing…nothing.  Amen.


Kathleen Kjolhaug is a columnist and can be reached at


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