In HOPE 10.23

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David Timms



"Do not love the world, nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. And the world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God abides forever."
(1 John 2:15-17)

Prayer for Today

Father, heal my afflictions -- not those of my circumstances but those of my heart. I confess how tacitly I resist You, how often I ignore You, and how desperate life becomes without You. I repudiate the pride and lust that govern me. Help me draw nearer to You and less attached to what is around me that I might be increasingly useful for Your purposes in this world. Amen.




"Your chief maladies are the pride that withdraws you from God,
and the lust that binds you to the earth."
~ Blaise Pascal, Pensees (17th century)

Our Chief Maladies

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 god?

To our minds, suffering appears to be the chief malady of our day.

But 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.

Blaise 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 lust.

"Your chief maladies are the pride that withdraws you from God, and the lust that binds you to earth."

We 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.

Suffering 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 our agony.

Suffering 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.

Yes, 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.

These "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 the way. 





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David Timms serves in the Graduate Ministry Department at Hope International University in Fullerton, California. "In HOPE", however, is not an official publication of the University and the views expressed are not necessarily those of the Administrators or Board. "In HOPE" has been a regular e-publication since January, 2001.