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Where to find hope after a life of despair

(PHOTO: PIXABAY)
(PHOTO: PIXABAY)

When Christ died on the cross for us, he was buried in the tomb and the stone was sealed. Hope was nowhere to be found. It was history’s darkest day.

But on the third day, the resurrection power of Christ was revealed. Jesus emerged from the grave, conquering sin and death — exactly as He said he would. As a result of this miracle two thousand years ago, we have a new lease on life, and we no longer have to fear death.

Jesus gave us the chance to start again. And that promise isn’t just for the afterlife. It’s for today. Victory over death can start right now.

The chance to claim victory today is the type of hope I’ve seen change countless lives over more than 25 years at the Los Angeles Dream Center. Every family and individual that our team meets that comes through our doors, bears hurt, trauma, fear, guilt, addiction, and pain that breaks my heart.

But alas, their story isn’t ending when they walk through our doors. A bright future is just over the horizon, thanks to the incomprehensible and miraculous power that God extends to His children, if they’ll only just receive it with humble hearts and minds. Indeed, we certainly prescribe practical steps and regimens to overcome addiction, abuse, and self-destructive behavior. But we know that lasting redemption and restoration are only possible with the supernatural help provided by our good and loving Father.

A young woman named Daisy came to us one day and shared the unfathomable darkness she endured at a very young age that led her to seek out love and acceptance in all the wrong places.

“I thought my life was normal,” Daisy told us, “until I was 12 years old and I found out that the man I had believed was my dad my whole life, wasn't. For the first time, I felt I was not worthy enough and questioned why my biological dad didn't want to be part of my life.”

“As I grew older, I seemed to lean more and more on men,” Daisy shared, “searching for that missing fatherly love. This was the beginning of a painful and heartbreaking path of toxic relationships.”

Daisy went on to explain that when she was just 14, a relative sexually abused her. On top of that, she blamed herself, and for many years she carried guilt and shame that know human being should ever be left to cope with.

“When a friend in school introduced me to crystal meth,” her story continues, “I spent the next 11 years on a destructive path chasing that high. There was a growing void in my life that I was filling with drugs and the wrong kind of love.”

“I left my home for that ‘love’ when I was 16,” she recalls with sadness. In that relationship, she was verbally and sexually abused all over again, and yet felt trapped with no way out. What’s more, she was now the mother of three beautiful girls at the age of 21, and the pressures of life continued to build.

In 2014, she decided to finally leave the father of her girls. In anger, he opened a Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS) case to take away her girls, and he succeeded.

“I lost my kids,” she lamented. “After that, I got my first eviction and lost my apartment.” From there she fell deeper into addiction. She eventually managed to get her kids back, but they lived in multiple hotels, friends’ and families’ living rooms, and even in a tent for a while. “Sometimes we had to spend long days at the park until we got money to pay for a room to sleep,” said Daisy.

One day she heard about the Dream Center through a friend of hers. Out of money, out of options, and at the end of her rope, she came to us downtrodden, but eager to finally find hope when everything else — and everyone else — had failed her.

“This has been the biggest blessing my family and I have ever received,” Daisy said after several months of help here. “With a roof over our heads, beds to sleep in, and food provided, my kids finally have a place to call home.” Daisy also has had the opportunity to pursue her GED while at the Dream Center, she meets with a case manager regularly, and she and her kids are receiving Christ-centered therapy. And now, she is surrounded by the love and fellowship of a church family.

“Most importantly, I am finding my identity in Christ and surrendering my will to Him,” she exclaimed recently. “I believe that I will break my family’s generational curse. I put my trust in Jesus for my life and for my kids every day, because I know His vision is greater than mine.”

Only the unfailing, unwavering love of a heavenly Father could provide such a drastic shift in Daisy’s life. He was, is, and always will be the recipe for lasting hope after a life of despair.

The one who has the power to overcome the grave is the only one who has the power to overcome the vicious cycles and generational curses that Daisy refers to. Yes, there’s certainly a lot we can do on our own to pick up the pieces and leave a destructive lifestyle. But ultimately, the forever cure is in our Maker’s hands. All He asks of us is to accept it.

Matthew Barnett is the co-founder of the Los Angeles Dream Center and senior pastor of Angelus Temple. The Los Angeles Dream Center is a faith-based non-profit dedicated to transforming the lives of individuals and families in Los Angeles through residential and outreach programs.

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