The police vehicles blew past us and into the neighborhood that we were driving. Pulled to the curb, we were behind another car and another was parked in the exit lane of a parking lot. Our three cars formed an ‘L’ shape. This was yesterday.
Immediately, I noticed a body lying at the crux of our ‘L’ — half on the curb and half on the street. The other drivers were on their phones, calling 911 and we realized that the police had not seen it but were instead heading to the address from which the initial call originated.
Kellie and I swiftly but cautiously walked over. He was spread eagle and shirtless and his chest rose up and down in small spurts as his body struggled to take in air. The closer we came, the more visible was the blood that formed several streams down his chest and was also pooling on the concrete around the back of his head. A deep, 5 inch large open gash on the side of his neck told us he was trying to end his life only 30 seconds before.
I noticed an 8 inch fishing knife still in his limp right hand and his blue t-shirt was balled up next to him. Quietly and quickly — and maybe foolishly, I guess — I took a corner of that t-shirt, grabbed the knife out of his hand and hurried it several feet away from the near lifeless man.
Then I stood over him, talking. I don’t remember what I said other than, “It’s going to be okay. What’s your name, friend? What’s your name?” He didn’t move initially but then furrowed his brow and squinted up at me as if waking from a long sleep.
“Jesse,” he said.
“Don’t move, Jesse,” I said. “You’re going to be okay.”
The police circled back at that moment and descended on Jesse — first handcuffing him for safety reasons and then tending to his wounds. Kellie and I stepped back, both of us storming the gates of heaven for Jesse. He will live, physically anyway.
What makes someone so empty that they would endure self-inflicted pain to avoid pain altogether? What makes a person so desperate that they would — in broad daylight and on a bustling street — give up all to gain nothing? Many professionals and observers have explanations but not answers, except maybe one:
They have lost hope.
Hope sustains. Hope thrives. Hope develops and lifts up. Hope deprived means death on all kinds of levels. Jesus even said, “In this world, you’re going to have trouble,” which to me is the most ‘Captain Obvious’ statement of the scriptures. But then he said, “take heart because I have overcome the world.”
That’s Hope. That’s life. That’s strength.
As we left Jesse to the care of the wonderful officers attending him, Kellie leaned over and said, “Jesse.” He opened his eyes, looked up at her and forced a little grin. “Jesse,” Kellie continued, “God has a wonderful purpose for your life.”
“Thank you,” Jesse said and smiled.
Simple — and that’s how Hope works best.