Pascal explains: “What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace? This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words by God himself.” [Pascal, Pensees #425]
For such a desire to exist in the hearts of all mankind, there has to be a true lacking to accompany the feeling of a void. Scripture teaches that man began in this world with the ability to walk in direct communion with God. After the Fall, that communion was broken and a void remained in the heart of man. This void or infinite abyss can only be satisfied by the one and only infinite God. An infinite God to fill an infinite abyss. And the good news is that God desired to extend a solution to the problem. He could just as easily have left us in that abyss.
But it is also therefore true that the infinite abyss exists in all apart from God. Those who claim no need for God or have sought out a solution to that ‘universal seeking’ for that internal craving and have done so apart from accepting the only revealed God, find that the emptiness remains.
Pascal does not directly use the phrase ‘a God-shaped vacuum’ as it is often quoted, but he does speak to the empty print and trace that remains of the once true happiness that man enjoyed and that now there is but an infinite abyss. Our world is franctically settling for the fake when they can have the real thing.
A true relationship with God can be established but only by the plan which was set out by God Himself. A bridge was built which crosses that abyss and reestablishes that once held happiness. That bridge is Christ Himself. No substitutes exist.
It is that print and trace that Pascal speaks about which can urge us on in the pursuit of that fulfillment. Pascal’s words make me see that we often search for help in all the wrong places and come up empty. Our world says that the search itself is the fulfillment. They have it all wrong. The search for fulfillment is not the same as finding the ‘object’ of that fulfillment. That is why truth matters. It is either the true solution to the problem or it is just another aspect of the abyss which disguises itself so that its true nature is kept hidden. Some believe they have found spiritual insight but are in reality still groping in the darkness and have been lulled into thinking that they are standing in the light.
John8:12 ” When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”