It is Wednesday. The room has yellow walls and and an aged floor. It is big enough for a sink, a medical examination table, two chairs, and a computer. But it’s small enough for his knee to be just a foot from mine.
His hair is frizzy for want of a comb, his pants sagging for want of a belt—though the fraying twine he is currently wearing seems a worthy substitute. His body stinks for want of home.
It is his first time here in this place of safety that seeks to provide medical care in the name of Jesus without cost or judgment.
“I am the chaplain here,” I said gently.
He sniggers, looking at the floor. “What’s God ever done for me, eh?” His voice sharpens as if he’s about to pounce. “I’ve been beaten, spat on . . . where’s God in all that?”
He pulls his hands out from his coat and lifts them before my face like a man at worship. “Look at what the coldness has done to my hands,” he says, as he pushes his bloody, cracked, and chiseled hands closer. He quickly pulls back his sleeves to reveal self-inflicted wounds like neat lines on a page, each one an entry of agony. “Where’s your God in that?” he shouts.
I do my best to breathe slowly in the midst of his onslaught. But more importantly, I reach within myself to source that helpful Spirit who empowers and guides.
He continues: “Look at my feet!” He kicks off an untied boot to reveal a holey sock and a painfully bent foot—red, blistered, and wounded. I try not to wince and reach deeper still.
“I’m tired out here on these streets, man,” he finishes, leaning back in his chair while his foot finds its boot.
We sit in a moment of silence, catching our breaths.
“I know another whose hands are wounded,” I say as calmly as I can. “His feet, too, coiled in pain. In fact, he knows what it is to feel unwanted and spit on, too.”
He stares at me curiously. “Oh yeah? Who is that, then?”
“God’s very own son, Jesus,” I say, my voice quivering. “His hands and feet know wounds like yours.”
His eyes begin to glass over as he makes the connection between his wounds and those of Jesus. He buries his hands in his face, and I hear him whisper, “Help me, Jesus.”
Thanks be to God that we have one who “shared in [our] humanity,” (Heb. 2:14), who is able to “empathize with our weaknesses,” (Heb. 4:15), and by whose wounds we are healed (Isa. 53:5).