The comfort of His peace which passes understanding; the blessed assurance of the healing and the deliverance from the evils of this world; that balm in Gilead after well over 400 years still offers a glimmer of hope for the repose from suffering and pain that so eluded our enslaved ancestors. We hope.
There wasn’t and there never is a blessed assurance. Faith, like hope and redemption is an ongoing battle. To offer the Balm in Gilead as a “fait accompli” is to deny the circumstances that made/make this balm necessary. It is a cry for a balm in Gilead not an assertion that places this spiritual at the core of the African-American’s experience in this wilderness of North America. The uncertainty of attainment and the despair at the elusive nature of His surpassing peace is the spur to our strenuous efforts; the chastising whip to our struggle for equality, prosperity, security, community, productivity and sanity.
Is there a balm in Gilead? Even if that balm is only the song, it is worth it. Though they may have given in, our forbearers; never gave up. In principle, it is why we even have the song in the first place. The cost was horribly high. Suffering, humiliation, and death on an unimaginable scale does not produce a lyric of comfortable solace or a tune of calm resignation. If you want a balm in Gilead; then you had better cry for it; grope for it; if you need be, fight for it or they’ll take that too.