In this world, evil seems to be gaining ground, but something greater is also awakening in the collective human conscience. We read about terror, but we also read about kindness. There are those intent on destroying lives, but there are also those who are intent on restoring life.

Despite the unrest of the world, love is not absent. 

At the front lines of conflict in the Greek forests of Samothrace ‚Ästhot on the heels of violence and injustice ‚Äď compassion shows up and loves.

My heart is moved at the words of the Albanian policeman to the refugee whom he saved: “Do not be ashamed. I have also lived through a war. You are now my family and this is your house too.”

There are people who will refuse others even just a drink of water in their time of desperate need, but there are also people who will gladly receive others into their home, clothe them, and feed them.

They do so because a truth convicts them: Aren’t we all brothers?

As much as we have a capacity for evil, we also have a capacity for good. There is a verse in the Bible that says this about sincere love: It is to hate what is evil and cling to what is good (Romans 12:9).

We can only do good to others, to the degree that we are personally disturbed by injustice and resolve to do something.

There is always something we can do, right where we are.
As a child, I wondered why I was fortunate enough to be born in Singapore. Are some people inherently more deserving of a better life than the others?

And¬†how do we measure a good life? Are the lives of the young children in Vietnam who work¬†12-hour days¬†in the field for meagre¬†(by our standards) amounts of money absolutely¬†worse off than the white-collar worker in Singapore who toils¬†late into the night ‚Äď just so he can avoid his family at home?¬†

We cannot answer on their behalf.

War, poverty and oppression are the big names in the business of curtailing the potential of a fulfilling life.¬†But loneliness, brokenness, guilt, and a lack of worth ‚Äď things common to the¬†human race¬†‚Äď also plague and damage a society like¬†Singapore’s.

Have you struggled with these feelings? Do you know someone who does?

Eudaimonia,¬†a Greek term described in 4th century BC by Aristotle, can be translated into “human flourishing” or “fulfillment”. An earlier philosopher, Socrates,¬†saw¬†eudaimonia¬†as the goal of human desires and actions.

It¬†is not the absence of evil that¬†we are most in need of¬†‚Ästit is¬†the presence of God. Only that can restore to us life¬†of the fullest measure.

People want to lead fulfilling lives. But human flourishing is not possible when¬†purpose is absent, when people don’t feel that they are worthy, when¬†they feel that there is¬†no way to¬†escape their meaningless life.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life,¬†and have it to the full.”¬†(John 10:10)

In the Biblical book of John, we get a picture of what evil does: It steals, kills and destroys. But in God’s hand is the¬†counter-offer of¬†a full life.

Our desire for the more¬†abundant life isn’t new ‚Äď it¬†transcends culture and time periods. But when evil seems to be winning, how do we still trust in God’s offer for meaning and purpose?

God’s offer was not without recognition of the troubles¬†we may face.¬†So it¬†is not the absence of evil that¬†we are most in need of¬†‚Ästit is¬†the presence of God. Only that can restore to us life¬†of the fullest measure.

“Our stories are all stories of searching. We search for a good self to be and for good work to do. We search to become human in a world that tempts us always to be less than human or looks to us to be more. We search to love and to be loved.”¬†(Frederick Buechner)

Could it be that the ache of our hearts is to be useful ‚Äď to be good, to do meaningful work, and to do good to others?

But somewhere in the middle of that journey, bad things can happen.

We experience hurt, we fall into disillusionment. Life can feel so unfair. The gap between our reality and our innate dreams feel so big. And in response, we may scale back our capacity for loving others to protect ourselves from getting hurt.

If there’s been a sense of hollowness in our heart, a feeling that there is something more that cannot be simply fulfilled by just wealth or achievements ‚Äď would we consider believing that God is bigger than we¬†know and closer than we think?

And in a world where it is often hard to believe in much of anything, we search to believe in something holy and beautiful and life-transcending that will give meaning and purpose to the lives we live. And in that process, God uses that person ‚Äď the Christian ‚Äď to help others find healing and flourishing too.”¬†(Frederick Buechner)

Our flourishing cannot be achieved in isolation. God first calls us to Himself, and then to others whom He also loves. (1 Corinthians 12:26).

Closer to home, where compassion looks a lot different from rebuilding houses and homes torn apart by war and strife, we are not without suffering in our midst. There is rebuilding work of a different kind.

So how we view the child who is outcasted and bullied in school matters; what we think of the¬†teenager¬†who puts on a strong front to hide his fear¬†matters; how we respond to the adult who¬†has lived her entire life being told she will never make it in life … All that matters.

If there’s been a sense of hollowness in our heart, a feeling that there is something more that cannot be simply fulfilled by just wealth or achievements ‚Äď would we consider believing that God is bigger than we¬†know and closer than we think?

There is healing and a human flourishing which God makes available to us. And He also makes it available to others through us as vessels.

If we recognise our privilege of having been given what we have, we can find joy in offering kindness to another.

We want to love, and be loved. And there is risk in that. But take the risk to believe that God loves you and that you can love others. We have this hope in overcoming our natural self-centeredness.

Our hope is kept safe in the fact that we are profoundly loved by God, and that He has the ability to restore fullness of life to what was stolen, broken, and destroyed.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

It’s a lesson that may take a while¬†‚Äď and a little faith ‚Äď but¬†cling to¬†God’s love¬†and we¬†will overcome¬†in His love.