chief maladies are the pride that withdraws you from God,
and the lust that binds you to the earth."
~ Blaise Pascal, Pensees
Human suffering generally presents the toughest obstacle to faith for
most people. "How could a loving, all-powerful God allow the kind
of suffering that we see or hear about every day? He's either not truly
loving, or not truly all-powerful." In the former case, who wants
to submit to a tyrant? In the latter case, what good is an impotent
our minds, suffering appears to be the chief malady of our day.
to take such a position is akin to arguing that in flu season our
greatest problem is a running nose or watering eyes. These are but
symptoms of a viral cause much deeper within us.
Pascal, the 17th century French mathematical genius who had a
conversion experience at 31 years of age and died at 39, understood
that something much more sinister lies beneath the surface of our
suffering -- something of a profoundly spiritual dimension; pride and
chief maladies are the pride that withdraws you from God, and the lust
that binds you to earth."
must not dismiss these "chief maladies" too quickly, as
though they have little real-life relevance. In fact, they afflict our
souls and our circumstances every day.
is prolonged and exaggerated by our rejection of God. As we humbly walk
with Him, He re-aligns our perspective of the temporal. "Momentary
light afflictions" the apostle Paul called them "not worthy
to be compared with the eternal weight of glory" ahead of us. (2
Corinthians 4:17-18) Our pride blinds us to eternity and exacerbates
is further intensified by our lust; lust for power, control,
comfort, and satisfaction. This lust is self-serving ... and
self-harming. It pursues illusions and produces heart-ache. When my
lust collides with your lust the outcome is always conflict.
it would be easy to look at the symptoms and say that God is careless
of our condition. But the viral infection is a matter of our hearts,
not the happenings.
"chief maladies" of pride and lust work tirelessly within us
to undermine our marriages, our families, our ministries, and our
communities. The real remedy lies not in dogged determination but in
sincere humility, self-denial, and surrender to the Father. May we lead