In the five years I’ve lived and worked in the Tenderloin District of San Francisco, I’ve walked through a lot of despair.
There have been times I thought I’d never see the light at the end of the tunnel. I felt like I’d never be able to overcome.
That sort of despair — deep down, churning in your core — is what I saw in the eyes of a man who walked into our homeless drop-in center one morning. I recognized it in him because I’d felt it in myself.
We started talking. Then, something happened neither of us had expected: he began to weep.
As tears streamed down his face, he opened up his life to me. He told me about childhood trauma, fear and loneliness. I listened and I shared from my own experience.
As we shared words and shed tears, our vulnerability opened the door for light to shine in the darkness around us. I saw how God was drawing beauty from the ashes of my life, hope from despair — hope I could share.
God redeeming my brokenness gave me eyes to see another person’s brokenness. And in our brokenness and longing, we were being healed.
The man that walked out of the drop-in center that afternoon was different from the one that walked in. The new man was smiling ear to ear. Instead of despair, his faced was filled with hope.
The redeeming power of God in our lives means we’re not stuck; it means we’re both free and moving toward freedom. In the midst of despair, Jesus is our hope.