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Blaise Pascal

Blaise Pascal, one of the keenest intellects of the 17th century was a fervent believer in Jesus Christ. He is mainly known today for his scientific and mathematical discoveries (the theory of probabilities, the binomial theorem, the law of hydrostatics, and the invention of the first calculating machine).

Pascal also made significant contributions to the development of modern French prose in his works Penses and Les Provinciales. From these works we see his understanding of man's true inward condition, and the divine origin of man's inmost longing for real joy and happiness.

Pascal's writings on this subject are not theoretical and abstract, but experiential and concrete. They spring from his own intimate knowledge of God and the joy and peace that He is. Though written over 300 years ago, these words are of timeless value, speaking directly and compellingly to the greatest needs of our day. In his researches into the nature of the vacuum, he realized its spiritual counterpart in man. Within every human being he saw an emptiness and longing for happiness, genuine love, and something of lasting value. He described this yearning as a "Christ-shaped vacuum", which only the Person of Jesus Christ could fill.

In section VII of Penses, Pascal wrote: "All men seek happiness. This is without exception. Whatever different means they employ, they all tend to this end. The cause of some going to war, and of others avoiding it, is the same desire in both, attended with different views. The will never takes the least step but to this object. This is the motive of every action of every man, even of those who hang themselves.

And yet after such a great number of years, no one without faith has reached the point to which all continually look. All complain, princes and subjects, noblemen and commoners, old and young, strong and weak, learned and ignorant, healthy and sick, of all countries, all time, all ages, and all conditions.

A trial so long, so continuous, and so uniform should certainly convince us of our inability to reach the good by our own efforts.... What is it then that this desire and this inability proclaim to us, but that there was once in man a true happiness of which there now remains to him only; the mark and empty trace, which he in vain tries to fill from all his surroundings, seeking from things absent the help he does not obtain in things present? But these are all inadequate, because the infinite abyss can only be filled by an infinite and immutable Object, that is to say, only by God Himself."

Pascal observed that nothing among all God's creation could ever replace the Creator Himself in satisfying the deep longings of the human heart. In his own life, Pascal confessed that not his brilliant intellect, nor his refined thoughts, nor his greatest scientific research could fill the void within.

Only through the Person of Jesus Christ, uniquely God, yet fully Man, is this deep inner hunger filled and this profound thirst quenched. Pascal continued to say, "Only the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob, the God of Christians, is a God of love, and of comfort, a God Who fills the soul and the heart of those whom He possesses, a God Who makes them conscious of their inward wretchedness, and His infinite mercy, Who unites Himself to their inmost soul, Who fills it with humility and joy, with confidence and love, Who renders them incapable of any other end than Himself. Jesus Christ is the end of all, and the center to which all tends."

The God that Blaise Pascal spoke of is available for us to experience today. As Christians at the end of the twentieth century, we too have found this living One. Along with Pascal, we also confess that we have tried many things as substitutes for Him, but that nothing can take His place in our lives. In the words of the Psalmist, we can say to you, "O, taste and see the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusts in Him."

We invite you to take Him in, to let Him be the life and content of your being, filling that "Christ-shaped vacuum" within you. If these words have spoken to your heart and to your true condition, open your heart and spirit now with a simple and honest prayer:

"Lord Jesus, I need You. Forgive me of all my sins. Lord, come into me and fill me with Your life. O Lord Jesus, I give my life to You. Amen."

 

 
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