This infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words by God.Blaise Pascal, Pensées
I have often quoted Blaise Pascal as saying that “there is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every person, and it can never be filled by any created thing. It can only be filled by God, made known through Jesus Christ.” I believe this to be true, but it is not quite what Pascal said. I did a little research before sharing this as one of my favorite quotes and discovered that what he actually said (or wrote, to be precise, in his Pensées) is this:
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.
But that is equally powerful, isn’t it? We try in vain to fill this craving, this infinite abyss that can be described as a God-shaped hole or God-shaped vacuum, for the simple reason that it can only be filled by our infinite God.
It seems to me that Pascal is making a similar point here to Augustine, who famously reminds us that our hearts are restless until we rest in God – “You have made us for yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.” (I shared a reflection on that here: Restless Until We Rest in God.)
I know in my life that this has been very true – that I had an unquiet heart, a restless soul, an emptiness that I could not fill, until it was filled by God. And I am forever grateful that God has done just that, that God has poured the love of Christ into my heart through the Holy Spirit, and given me the peace that surpasses all understanding.
Of course, there are times when I forget all of this. Life gets too busy and complicated and I find myself restless once again. An emptiness creeps into my life, and I have to remind myself of this truth, that this emptiness, this infinite abyss, can only be filled by God, by God’s infinite grace, mercy, and love. And God is always eager to do just that!
God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.Romans 5:5