An Illusion Of Security

I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. The function of man is to live, not to exist.”

(Jack London)

I can’t help but notice something.

It’s been a year since I left home; A year since I started to become daringly adventurous and gutsily independent. A year since I felt like a knight who left his land to experience the gigantic world, a very big world which he only found in his books, to conquer dragons and see his dreams come to reality.

After all those months, I can’t help but notice.

Something changed.

I no longer actively sought opportunities to talk and meet new people like I used to. I no longer actively joined competitions that test my limits. I no longer deliberately read books like my life depended on it, like I used to. I no longer recorded and tracked my progress like I used to. I no longer am comfortable in taking risks like I absolutely had nothing to lose, like I used to.

I am becoming comfortable.

I noticed that life isn’t as hard, as risky, as challenging as it used to a year ago. And on top of this, the kind words and feedback that some people give me only adds up to this false sense of security.

A part of me thinks to myself, “You can live with this, Pyl. Remember how people acknowledge you and your talents? Yeah, you’ll have a decent future, Pyl.”

I am becoming comfortable, and worse, in a false security.

My talents, skills, job, achievements, dreams, connections, personality, stuffs, are things that provide me a sense of security, but a false one that will fade away in a blink of an eye. I realized I am foolishly possessed by the security that these immediate things provide, when the truth is that Security’s only master is the Creator Himself.

I remember that I passionately don’t want to have a life that just survives, but I want to live life to help others to have the same.

And I have been remembering another thing, a thing that both humbles me and wants me to push myself at the same time. And it is from this thing too that I find where true security is:

Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.””

(James 4, 13-14)


A Switchfoot Concert

As my sister and I was standing on the grounds waiting for the concert to start, we began to feel the ache in our knees and our soles. We’ve been standing for 1 hour, waiting in line, and finally here we are, willing to stand for another 4 hours for the duration of the Switchfoot concert.

 

Then finally.

Five.

Four.

Three.

Two.

One.

 

The people screamed. Switchfoot stepped up to the stage. They started by playing a song that was dedicated for us Filipinos, “Float“. The people were screaming, jumping, and singing along, and a lot had their cellphones lifted up to record the rare scene.

 

Switchfoot played a lot of their famous songs, from “Only Hope“, where Jon Foreman did a funny speech about Mandy Moore getting all the credit from a song she did not write. To “Dare You To Move” where almost everyone banged their heads in the air in sync with the beat. There was also a part where Jon requested all the stagelights to be switched off as we sang along with the band. All you could see are the lights coming out from our phone cameras. It almost looks like we were a sea of stars in an ocean of darkness. It was a beautiful experience and sight to behold.

 

As I was standing there, looking up at the band, feet aching, sweat dripping, a question dawned on me. Why am I here?

 

There is probably no other band whose lyrical work hits it home like Switchfoot does. It feels like they’re a band with a purpose. A band with a message for the world to hear.

 

To quote Jon, they want to be “a band that gives hope.”

 

Hope.

 

Hope amidst our broken humanity. Hope from the regrets of our past. Hope from the scandals of our brothers and fathers. Hope from this imperfect world. Always reaching out, always seeking, always struggling.

 

A lot of their songs tackle the tough questions of life. Of death. Of the problem with pain. And the promise of hope. And Foreman does this in a poetic and musical way, borrowing words and ideas from classic philosophers, theologians, honest introspection, literature, and timeless truths. It almost feels like he’s willing to face the darkness of our humanity for us, a darkness that so few of us are willing to face and even accept. And from this darkness, to light; Towards Hope. Because according to them, “The wound is where the light shines through.”

 

Switchfoot ended the adrenaline-filled concert with a song called “Where I Belong“, waving a big white banner with big words written on it: “Still looking for a home in a world where I belong.

 

 

Do yourself a favor. Check out this underrated band’s work. Search through their lyrics and ponder on its meaning. Attend their next concert. And probably just like me, you’ll love them too.

 

Tension

I feel this tension. It is inside and around me. It seems I am caught stuck in the middle between what is and what could be: Between how the world is and how the world could be.


Just like the poets have sung in their songs, I dream of “changing the world.”  But also like them, if I am to be deeply philosophically honest, I know I cannot truly change this world enough.


All these angst, impatience, sin, pain, love-sickness, longingness, restlessness.


Like a toddler that’s in a fit of tantrum to his father, I shake my fist at the Creator. “Why, God?” I feel the heavy burden of my humanity and the humanity of those around me. But just like a perfect kind Father towards His child, His response is Love. “I may be God, but I am also your Abba, my Pyl, and I know what’s best.”


How reassuring it should be to know that the Creator of this Universe — of time, of matter, of waves, of space  — calls me His child, and wants me to call Him Father! And how re-assuring it is to know that He, being The God who created every single thing that our minds can and cannot imagine, has set everything according to His grand design, from the beginning of time to the completion of it!


Knowing that everything should be going according to His sovereign plan, I will bear this tension within me knowing that I am not yet at home, in the process of trusting and pondering on His God-ness.


And I guess, just a shot at the moon, that this tension that I feel is what Augustine also felt, as he wrote the quite catchy line,


“Our heart is restless until it rests in You.”


I Have A Desperately Wicked Heart

 

“You have a good heart, Pyl.”

A woman once told me this during a serious one-on-one conversation. This particular line that she said then took shelter at the back of my mind ever since.

Why?

Because I know it’s too far from the truth.

My heart is sick. Just like every other people. Every other sinner. Every other normal human being. From the sins of my fathers on the pages of history, to the heart-wrenching sins exposed in modern media. They feel all too familiar. I feel their familiar fears. The familiar pain. The familiar struggle. The familiar loneliness. The familiar weaknesses. The familiar crutches. The familiar excuses. They feel all too familiar.

My heart is constantly waging war against forces within. The forces of angst, jealousy, pride, greed, and lust. When I look at what the majority of people would describe as “bad guys”, I feel the same way as they’d feel — Angst against these inhuman bad guys. But when I look at the mirror, I realize that I have the same blood, the same heart, the same potential, the same human animal instinct, that these “bad guys” have.

Mankind’s history repeats itself, over and over again.

My heart is not good. It is far from good.

I have a desperately wicked heart, and I know it. Whenever I examine myself, down to the deepest and darkest corners of my heart, I see nothing but desperation, longingness for something, and hopelessness of what it can offer.

I cannot put my hope in my own because it is hopeless to the core. No money, philosophy, success, friends, knowledge, nor experience could ever be enough. And that’s probably why Someone perfect saw a reason to go down here, suffer, and die — to give hope to the hopelessness. For in His resurrection, there is sure hope — The only hope that there is. The God who brings redemption to the failures, love to the loveless, justice to the victims, and hope to the hopeless.

To what people may see good in me, it is all because of the grace and work of Jesus Christ The Lord.

And with this, I rest my case.

I do not have a good heart. Because only God is good. And to Him be the glory, forever and ever, from this world, and to that which is yet to come.

 

From Iligan City to Metro Manila; From Dependence to Independence.

I was an unusual twenty-two year old young man.

Or atleast I feel like one when compared to my peers.

I flew immediately from my beloved Iligan City up far to the capital of Metro Manila to live solo independently, seeking for a challenge, with nothing but a hopelessly romantic dream inside my soul.

A dream.

A hope.

An experience.

I could have lived more comfortably by staying with my parents, or by moving to much familiar places, or even by living with some relative.

But my eyes were set on to something else.
Something bigger.
Something farther.

The road looked perilous, but my hopes were set.

It’s been 1 year or so. I have learned a gigantuous amount of things: From making my own food, to paying my own bills, to learning to take hold of the strain of solo-living. With this 1-year experience, I hope to blaze a trail of knowledge for my fellow people who might benefit from this experience.

Before I start, do know that these will be highly biased since these speak of my personal experiences. And experience will vary from person to person, as persons vary from their personalities, background, aspirations, skills, and many more.

With that out of the way, shall we start?

I. Career and Employment: The Promise of Learning

I came from one of the best, if not the best, school in our area, MSU-IIT. Though even with the status of my university, it’s unfortunate to say that my school is not that well-known in Manila’s IT industry.

I was absorbed by a company which, from my own observation, is mostly accepting only graduates from the schools of Ateneo, LaSalle, UP, etc. The management commented that I’m the first MSU graduate that was accepted. Considering my unspectacular academic grades (being the lazy, choosy college student that I am), I was only taken in because of my aptitude score and my somewhat interesting resume. Despite of this unfortunate discovery that my school is not that well known as I originally thought it is, I am thankful for my alma matter since if it’s only one thing that it does very well is this: Teaching people how to learn how to learn things. And it has been a very invaluable asset.

As a graduate from a school that is unfamiliar (atleast to them), and a multimedia IT graduate that’s working in a position mainly designed for Computer-Science graduates, I am alive to say that I had not been ax-ed so far. And did I mention that I got a prestigious corporate award (though undeserved) in my first months?

II. Financial Management: You Get To Learn How To Manage Your Finances

I have not asked a single centavo from my parents the moment I started to live under my own roof. This may mainly be due to my immensely stubborn and proud personality. I admit that learning how to manage finances has been a serious anxiety-causing nerve-wracking challenge for me, especially if you’re paying for your own roof, your own water, you’re own electricity, your food (which is needed for survival by the way), and everything else. If you’re trying to save money, you’re at a distinct disadvantage from those who are living with their parents because of the expense from bills..

But money-saving-capabilities and spending-power is not the only measurement of value; intangible assets such as experience, wisdom, and character are far more valuable. I think this experience has taught me a lot of these — expense management, being responsible towards bills, non-extravagant living, etc — things which I feel I could not have learned fast elsewhere.

III. Mindanao VS Luzon: Language and Discrimination?

I think that the top two reasons why my own people would hesitate to be here in Metro Manila are these. First, the use of the Tagalog language. Second, the possibility of discrimination.

These two reasons are reasonable. Conversing using a language that you are not fluent at is daunting. And being discriminated isn’t really nice. But how did it go with me? Did I experience difficulty with the language? Did I experience discrimination?

First, the language. Conversational Tagalog is quite difficult to master, but good news, you can speak English, and you’re probably better at it than most. When I was still learning the ropes of conversational Tagalog, I just used my English. If I truly cannot speak out a thought that I want to speak out using Tagalog, I just speak it in English. Simple. Chances are, you’ll be successful in your conversations. Plus, there’s also a chance that the person you’re talking to will be intimidated.

Secondly, the issue of discrimination. I’m not even sure if this issue is a myth or not. I think this thing boils deep down to personal self-assurance. Of my year in living here, I have not felt that I am being in any way inferior to any of the people here. I did notice, at the early months, some very few persons who blatantly tried. To their dismay, I know I am not inferior to Mark Zuckerberg or to Elon Musk in the same way that a speck of dust is not inferior to another speck of dust. And so are you.

IV. Independence: Sink or Swim!

Imagine playing a video game on the “hard” difficulty setting, voluntarily, except that the game is Life itself, and it has serious repercussions if ever you’ll fail.

I feel that’s an appropriate analogy.

It’s the first months of independent living that are the most ruthless.
Homesickness.
Adapting to new things.
Getting to know yourself more deeply.
Missing the people, activities, and things you grew up with.
It’s home-sickening, and of which the apex of this feeling is Christmas time.

But the pain is bearable. And when you get past that, the experience becomes a significant strength. A distinct strength that I feel cannot be gained elsewhere.

I’d like to think that through these I have become quite stronger (emotionally, mentally, and physically). To name a few, I learned that I can be independently responsible in life, that I can grow to extents I have not experienced yet, and that I have family and friends who I can lean on whenever all of my strengths depletes itself.

By having experienced what it feels like how to sink, I have learned how to swim. And when I look back, I feel nothing but gratitude for the gained strength.

Conclusion

What conclusion does this deserve? All I can say is, I have absorbed a tremendous amount of things in a short period of time, things that my written words fails to do justice.

Some of my friends have called me brave. But may the world know that it is not my own strength that holds me together, but it is the goodness of the sovereign Lord and His people, and His steadfast love that holds me, assures me, challenges me, and compels me altogether.

Your Best Life Later

Let Me Paint You A Story

A little girl was asked to wait inside a room with nothing but a chair and a big white marshmallow on a table. The teacher told her that she can either eat the marshmallow right away or wait until the teacher gets back so she can have another marshmallow. The teacher then left the room.

 

Eat the marshmallow right away, or wait until the teacher comes back for two marshmallows.

 

The little girl sat down. She looked at the marshmallow in front of her. She smelled it. She touched it. She wanted to taste it, but she waited.

 

Tick tock. Tick tock. 5 minutes has passed. No teacher yet. She stared laser-focused at the juicy marshmallow. She wanted to eat it so bad. But she waited.

 

Tick tock. Tick tock. 8 minutes has passed. The teacher still isn’t back. She took the marshmallow. She opened her mouth to take a bite. But then she didn’t. She put down the marshmallow. She decided to wait a little more.

 

Tick tock. Tick tock. 12 minutes has passed. No sign of the teacher yet. Finally, she took it again, made frequent small bites of it, until the marshmallow was no more.

 

This is an actual study that is now famously called the “Stanford Marshmallow Experiment.” In this study, a child was offered a choice between one small reward provided immediately, or two small rewards if they waited for a short period of time. In the follow-up studies, the researchers found that the children who were able to wait longer for the rewards tended to have better life outcomes, better scores, better educational attainment, and was more successful overall. This concept is also commonly called as “DelayedGratification“, the delaying of present gratification for the hope of greater future rewards.

 

This now begs to us the question: “Why should we care?

 

First, several studies have concluded that the ability to delay gratification is critical for success in life. Don’t believe me? Google it and find it out yourself. If you want success in life, then the experts said: Learn to delay gratification.

 

Second, the ability to delay gratification is like a muscle. You can choose to flex it or not. It’s never too late to work out. It’s never too late to practice delaying gratification.

 

Third, you can learn to delay gratification in a number of ways. You can train your willpower by using several methods: physical exercise, doing breathing-meditation, taking enough sleep, having a healthy diet, or you can trick your mind by using strategies, like the DistractionStrategy.

 

I have only skimmed the surface of this very interesting topic, but if I have caught your interest, then I have succeeded in my attempt to do so.

Let Me Tell You Something True

We all have this monster inside of us. I know I have this monster inside of me. Whenever I’m late and I’m caught in heavy traffic, this monster inside of me screams. Whenever my alarm goes off early in the dawn and I’m still sleepy, this monster argues to me that I need to sleep a little more. Whenever someone praises me or when I achieve something, this monster flatters me and gives me gifts called “Pride”. Whenever I’m hungry and my patience is being tested near to depletion, this monsters claws at me from my stomach to my head.

 

But then I decided. I want to tame this monster. Until I learned how to. And it’s an everyday battle.

 

We can live the good life now. We can gratify ourselves instantly and almost everyday. Or we can face suffering, learn to wait, and hope for greater future rewards.

 

We can have a good life now, or we can have our best life later.

 

This choice is mine to take.

 

This choice is ours to make.


A Letter To A Person Called Love

Oh Love, what have you on me? I do not deserve you, yet you said that nothing could ever take me away from you.

Oh Love, is your memory poor? Can you not remember how I emptied your heart dry? How I stole it away. How I took it with my two hands. And how I ripped it to shreds. I was selfish. I didn’t mean to do it. Or probably I did mean it, because I still do do it, even though I don’t want to. Or probably my human heart does. I really don’t know.

Oh Love, I do not deserve you. How you want me does not make sense at all. You are the embodiment of absolute perfection. I am the personification of perfect imperfection. How could you still say that your love is for me?

Oh Love, do know that I am but a jolly beggar sitting at your feet. You are a person of infinite beauty. I am a fatally flawed creature wired to fail. You are of infinite richness. I am but a symbol of poor finiteness.

Oh Love, I do not even deserve to write about you, nor even think about you. As far as the east is from the west , so is the distance between the difference of our qualities. My words do not do you justice. All the words in the world cannot do you justice. Yet, you still allow me to think, talk, and write about you. Oh Love, how kind could you be?

Oh Love, if I’d be a fool to die for you, then please let me be called a fool for life. Truly, what else can I do? Where else can I run? You are my only hope.

My 2016 Reading Review

2016 is a year of new things to me: New places. New people. New feelings. New ideas.

And new books.

It was in this year that I set out to challenge myself to explore different genres of books. And to my surprise, that I did achieve. From leadership books, to fantasy novels, to psychology books, to reference books, to philosophy books, to Church history, theology, and apologetic books. Aside from my surprise that I successfully stomped-down this challenge, I’m also quite surprised as to how my interest further branched out, especially since I didn’t expect myself to be interested in Church history and in towards deeper theology.

Here are the books which helped shaped my 2016. These are some of my teachers who have challenged my thinking, and some of the leaders who have added to the molding of my heart.

Not all of these books are good (I’d say some of them are pretty challenging to finish), yet I enjoyed almost all of these:

  1. Innovators – Walter Isaacson
  2. Startup Nation – D. Senor and S. Singer
  3. Carnage and Culture – V.D. Hanson
  4. How To Win Friends And Influence People – Dale Carnegie
  5. How To Read A Book – M. Adler (as ironic as it sounds, yes, there’s a book like this existing)
  6. The Fine Art of Small Talk – D. Fine
  7. Your Career Roadmap – Nelson Dy
  8. Stock Smarts – R.Geronimo
  9. Beyond Talent – John Maxwell
  10. 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth – John Maxwell
  11. Effective Immediately – E. Bennington and S. Lineberg
  12. The 8th Habit – Stephen Covey
  13. Mindset – C. Dweck
  14. Tipping Point – Malcolm Gladwell
  15. The 4 Hour Work Week – Tim Ferris
  16. Now, Discover Your Strengths – Marcus Buckingham
  17. Eleven Rings – Phil Jackson
  18. Entrepreneur: Guide To Raising Money – J. Wiley
  19. Clean Code – R. Martin
  20. Patterns of Enterprise Application Architecture – M. Fowler
  21. Merlin’s Blade – Treskillard
  22. Ender’s Game – O.S. Card
  23. The Silmarillion – J.R.R. Tolkien
  24. The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe – C.S. Lewis
  25. The Chronicles Of Narnia: Prince Caspian- C.S. Lewis
  26. The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader- C.S. Lewis
  27. The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Silver Chair- C.S. Lewis
  28. The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Horse and His Boy – C.S. Lewis
  29. The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Magician’s Nephew- C.S. Lewis
  30. The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Last Battle- C.S. Lewis
  31. Mere Christianity – C.S. Lewis
  32. The Weight of Glory – C.S. Lewis
  33. The Conviction To Lead – Albert Mohler
  34. Stop Dating The Church – Joshua Harris
  35. Walking With God Through Pain and Suffering – T. Keller
  36. The 40 Most Influential Christians – Daryl Aaron
  37. 30 Events That Shaped The Church – Alton Gansky
  38. Worship – John MacArthur
  39. Slave – John MacArthur
  40. The Attributes of God: Volume One – A.W. Tozer
  41. Follow Me – David Platt

Although I failed to hit my additional 2016 challenge of reading-one-book-a-week (I’m seven books short), yet I am contented with the variety of books that I read this year.

Thank you, 2016, for being crazy amazing and for being adventure-filled. Thank you friends, who suggested me good books to read, and for voluntarily lending me your personal copies of your books.

Cheers to 2017. Cheers to more reading.

A Letter To The End of 2016

Dear 2016,

You are a crazy amazing year.

Before you were just starting, I had a mission. I tasked myself to move to a distant foreign land, whose language and culture I am not fluent at, to apply for work, to live independently, and to grow as much as I could. All of these are just a means to an ends. And if you’d ask what the ends are, the ends are manifold: To pursue an idealistic childhood dream, to obtain maturity and wisdom, to learn independence and necessary life-skills, to pit myself against an uncomfortable and new environment, to take-advantage of strategic opportunities not available elsewhere, to learn the world, and to (hopefully) hasten the growth of any sleepy potential that is hiding inside of me. Considering the serious life-threatening risks that this mission entails, I realize this is a suicide mission.

And now, it’s the ending of December. You are now dying, and a new year is about to be born. Let’s see, how did you, 2016, go?

If I had to describe you in one word, I’d have to use the overused word: Amazing (and this word will be overused throughout this post.)

The reason why this is is because:

Firstly, I was, unexpectedly, absorbed by a company with an amazing culture, tasked with an amazing job, and with me working with amazing officemates.

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Skyscrapers in Makati. I took this photo not really sure if this is our office building.

 

Secondly, I was put into a team where I found myself as a perfect, if not very perfect, fit. I met some very super-caring, smart, and talented intellectual people in my team. Some in particular are persons who have challenged my thought in a very craft-ful way, and for that I am grateful. Considering my choosy personality, I find it amazing how they learned that this is a team that would be perfect for me: a small team of promising people who are committed to excellence. Aside from my team, I also consider it an unexpected blessing to have met some very dedicated Christians who are committed to the learning, the studying, and the sharing of the absolute Truth.

devs
Just the team that my team is a part of.

 

Thirdly, I joined Toastmasters. And I was elected as an officer, though I believe that the great reason for this happening is because of our initial lack of manpower. Toastmasters has delivered me not only great learning opportunities, but also strategic ones.

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I realize that being a master of toast is not only funny, but weird.

 

Fourthly, I joined my first hackathon and we won as finalists (not the real winner, only finalists). I met some new smart friends who were willing to join me in my crazy adventures, and who I hope will continue to join me in my next ones. Because after all, we are Vertex, and we connect the present to the future!

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After a long, arduous walking and map-pointing, we finally arrived at our long-sought venue for the final round of the hackathon!

Fifthly, at my first nine months in the company, I was awarded with the Above & Beyond recognition. This is a company award that is given only to 5% of the population per division: A very prestigious award, they’d call it. And being a newcomer to the company, and a newcomer to corporate work, I can’t help but feel very grateful for this. But the glory is not mine. I thank my leads and supervisors for all the belief and the trust and the pushing and the caring, and for my teammates for being amazing. I take my hats off to you.

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Though I’m still not at home with the Infinity, but as Buzz Lightyear often says, “To infinity, and beyond!”

 


 

So to conclude, how truly amazing is 2016?

2016 is not only amazing, but crazy amazing.

2016 is amazing not because of me, but because of all the amazing people who loved me, and because of a very God who never ceases to amaze me. I am still alive and breathing mainly because of the help of amazing family and friends, which I am intensely grateful, and beyond that, I am intensely and madly grateful to the sovereign, super-loving, and super-caring God that we have. If not for Him, my steadfast loving Savior, I can only think of myself as a hopeless and dead speck of dust.

To end, my final short words for you dear 2016 are these:

Thank you! And goodbye.

And dear 2017, I’m coming for you.

 

Sincerely,
A hopeful speck of dust

 

Why Do Bad Things Exist If There’s A Good God?

Think With Me For A Second

If there is an all-mighty, all-powerful, and an all-good God, why is the world that we live in so frail and weak and so full of bad and broken things?
Why did the studious college student who just had an intense and unfair breakup with his lover, went up high to the overpass to jump down headfirst into the car-filled streets?
And why did the ministry-serving young couple who for years fervently prayed for a baby to finally be added to their just-starting-up family, received a baby with special needs?
And why did the innocent girl who was born into an uneducated and poor family that can’t seem to make ends meet, was also born without limbs?
And if you would dig deeper with me, why do we, with our rational minds and our tugging conscience, question these seemingly unfair and evil phenomena?
Pain, injustice, suffering — why do these things exist? If bad and evil things exist in our world, wouldn’t that prove that there’s no God at all? Or if there is one, then surely He’s not a good God. Or probably, and a more terrifying thought, that He’s a God that doesn’t care at all.
 

Walk With Me For A Minute

Instead of the hasty conclusions presented above, I would think that it is because of the very fact that we acknowledge the existence of the presence of this uncomfortable thing — this universal thing called pain, this evil, this darkness, this suffering — that proves the very existence of something good, or even possibly, the existence of Someone who’s the very source of the idea of good. For example, we know it when a performing singer goes out of tune with the song she’s singing simply because we know it first when she’s in tune. We also know it when we see that our favorite shopping store is in a season of sale simply because we know it when it is not in a season of sale. In the same way, we know that there are things that are good simply because we know that there are things that are not good.
I would surmise that it is impossible for us to realize this fact — the fact that there are “good things” — unless there’s the presence of something that would prove the existence of those “good things” — in our case, this something would be the “bad things.” It is because we know that there are bad things — things that are not good — that we come to realize that there are also good things. To quote a favorite poet of mine, “The shadow proves the sunshine.”
And to add to this subject, I would like to entertain the idea of the great possibility that the existence of these “good things” might also prove that this concept of “good and bad” is universal. As I have learned from C.S. Lewis, he presented an interesting case where he concluded that each and every one of us apparently has this so-called “universal inner moral compass” that is common to all, and it is because of this “universal inner moral compass” that causes us to know justice from injustice. According to him, it is this compass that gives to life our natural ability to identify the good from bad. It is the source of our knowledge, gut-feeling, intuition, whatever-you-want-to-call-it, regarding the concept of justice. And he also presented that it seemed to him that it looked like there’s a Someone who intentionally put that “inner moral compass” inside of us, for some reason that that Someone has.

See With Me For Eternity

Now we have learned, I hope, that firstly, the existence of these so called “bad things” do not disprove a good God, but rather it serves as a proof that a good God exists. And secondly, I have introduced the proposition that there are things that are universally “good” and things that are universally “bad” simply because of the “universal inner moral compass” that is apparently inside each one of us. And thirdly, I briefly touched the concept that all of these might be just the natural result of the doings of a Someone, a God, who deliberately designed this so called concept of “good and bad” for some reason that He has.
These then must be a reason why we desire to have those things that seem good to us, and on the opposite end, why we question pain and injustice.
It is my deepest desire for all of us to strive forward to the things of good. But we cannot do that alone, for doing that would be self-centered and very foolish.
Instead, what I would suggest is for us cling to the God who is the Source of the very idea of goodness itself.
To learn from Him. And to know Him. And also to be in deep love with Him (which I believe is just a natural by-product of getting to know Him a little). Then to finally see Him, with a smile.
Who knows, at the end of our days, He might even answer all of our other wildest questions.