There Really is Balm of Gilead

Just last night my dear wife sat beside me on the bed and asked me how my day was. I told her I spent most of it repenting and wishing I could be stronger and do more. I feel trapped inside a broken down body, and handicapped by the fact that I nearly always feel sick. The sicker I feel, the harder it is for me to feel and live in the Spirit. When I was younger, a small thought, or devotional feeling could trigger powerful flows of the Spirit, long, wonderful prayers, and inspired writing. Now days, I have to work and struggle to feel spiritually alive.

She thought for a moment and said, “These are just the mists of darkness. You have your hand firmly upon the iron rod, and you are going forward with every ounce of energy you possess. What more could you do?”

I thought about her reply for a moment. I had never considered physical pain and sickness as a mist of darkness. But, for me, it plainly is. It limits my spiritual sight, and inhibits my growth. It makes everything I want to do harder, and even harder to feel the Lord’s guidance.

I am so grateful she said that, because trials and opposition, which the mists of darkness represent so well, aren’t something we are doing wrong – they are ordained of God, and important to our progress.

Chris asked yesterday if there was more opposition than ease, and when the blessings finally come, does it feel like it gives enough payoff to keep you going? Is there rest between the trials, or do they just keep coming stronger and stronger still, until we feel defeated?

My answer is this, I still remember the first time I had a visionary experience, and that one experience gave me enough hope and enough fuel, and enough “payoff” to fuel my hope for the remainder of my mortal life. But, it wasn’t the last. The grace of God has poured out over my soul as a window opened into heaven, a steady, cleansing and beautifying view of eternal things so glorious that any one of them would fuel my desire forever.

Even during the trials, joy has been my steady diet. Even during the loss, during persecution and insurmountable obstacles, I have never felt alone, or abandoned, or lost. Even with my eyes full of tears, and my heart broken, I still felt endowed with truth, light and power. And there has never been a moment when some component of joy has not filled my being.

If one only looks at the possible struggle we might endure by seeking great things, it is not a place a reasonable man would go. Our natural man impulse is to walk away from a forest fire, not into it. But, once the reasonable man sees the miracles flow from inspired obedience, and empowered priesthood, once he feels the fire within, hears the words of eternal life, and has Jesus Christ himself as your comforter, then no forest fire seems dangerous or frightening ever again.

There really is Balm of Gilead, and there really is vast compensation for this mortal life of righteous obedience, and there is joy which surpasses the understanding of man in the hear-and-now, in this life, in this moment.

I testify and praise God that it is so.

Brother John

© July 2011, John M. Pontius, all rights reserved. Non-commercial reproduction permitted.

About John Pontius

I am a lover of truth.
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7 Responses to There Really is Balm of Gilead

  1. Kathy Pitochelli says:

    Thanks John for lifting me up. I never get enough.


  2. Matt Evans says:

    I had been struggling with low energy, mental blocks, and a something-aint-right feeling for several days. Some of this has been ongoing for many years and I believe is a mild depression, but it was extra bad recently. On Wednesday I read your post “Fear No Evil” and the very next day as I was praying I told Heavenly Father “if any of this has to do with the influence of evil spirits will you please disburse them and remove that.” Literally within 5 or 10 seconds I felt the dark oppressiveness melt away and felt great. It was very dramatic, and I’ve felt much, much better since. So anyway, I wanted to share this in case it helps anyone else. It ties together your Wednesday and Thursday posts; I think some of the mists that feel like issues with the mind and/or body are actually caused by, or made worse by, evil spirits.


    • John Pontius says:

      Matt, that is a great insight. Thanks for participating.

      If I remember right, almost 18 years ago you were the first person to comment on on my then new book “Following the Light of Christ into His Presence”. Am I remembering right?



  3. alicia says:

    Dear Brother John,
    Thank you for your words and advice. It seems like many of us have been feeling and experiencing these mists of darkness in our lives lately. Part of me wonders if the fact that so many people I know personally are experiencing these mists is a good sign…that maybe we are on the right path heading toward Zion? When I have prayed about Lehi’s vision, one of the things that came to my mind was that the mists of darkness were scattered throughout the journey towards the tree of life, but were the thickest right up near the tree. This makes sense to me somehow, because with the additional light and knowledge that comes as we progress along the path, we must also be subject to additional darkness. I have faith that as we put our trust in our Savior, hold fast to the rod of iron, and continue on the straight and narrow path, the mists will part, and we will receive the blessings we are seeking.
    Much love,


  4. cheyenne brashear says:

    Dear Brother John,

    I’m very sorry to hear that you still feel bad most of the time. If you find it harder to feel and live in the Spirit during your times of sickness it certainly doesn’t show in your un-blogs. I have greatly enjoyed and benefited from every single post that you have written(except the one on the celestial fruit pizza, I haven’t benefited from this one yet, but maybe I will someday:)

    I have loved every single message I have read on here, and when I feel the Spirit move me, I write a comment back. I feel amazed at the willingness and desire that you have even when you don’t feel well to share with us the truths, love, and goodness that God has manifested to you.

    When a person speaks or writes by the power of God, their words have healing power because they manifest the goodness, love, and power of God,enabling those hearing or reading those truths to more easily approach God and find out for themselves the greatness of God and His Son, Jesus Christ.

    As a result of reading your first book,FTL, my prayers have become more substantial and heartfelt; My scripture studies have become much more in depth and spiritually rewarding; My relationships have become more empathetic, compassionate, and understanding; Iv’e begun to know of the goodness of God,and I’m starting to realize that in Him and in His Son dwells everything that I love, and everything that I want to be.

    After reading TTOZ, I feel like a fire has been lit in me that can’t be extinguished. I see these truths everywhere in the scriptures now: the establishment of Zion,how it is the pinnacle of everything the prophets and righteous have desired since the beginning of the world. The calling and mission of the 144,000,how these angels/saviors will gather the elect into Zion, and many other truths that are everywhere found in the scriptures.

    I know that Christ is the reason that we have been blessed to receive this knowledge, and I do praise Him and thank Him. I feel that though you suffer now, you will be eternally blessed for being a willing vessel, and a great instrument in His hands for sharing the true beauties of the gospel that have blessed your life and the lives of all the righteous since the very beginning. Many have been, and will be blessed because of your labors in Christ. ” For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed IN US.” (Romans 8:18)

    You are greatly loved brother. May God bless you in all your needs and desires. Brother C.


  5. Annette says:

    Brother John-
    Thank you for sharing the thoughts of your heart. I, too, struggle with maintaining and living by the Spirit when I have physical challenges. I notice I even struggle significantly more on days when I am just tired because I didn’t get enough sleep. I’ve realized more and more that our physical bodies serve as one of our greatest “learning labs”. Mortality (and our physical bodies) seem to bring some of the greatest “mists of darkness” and can take many forms. It helps me maintain faith, trust, and courage in my Savior and Father when I remember that. I rejoice that I DO have a physical body with all its challenges. I keep trying to rejoice in the opportunities for growth my physical body provides, because I know it is how He wants me to grow!


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