From John Piper:
Blaise Pascal was a French mathematical genius who was born June 19, 1623. After running from God until he was 31 years old, on November 23, 1654 at 10:30 pm, Pascal met God and was profoundly and unshakably converted to Jesus Christ. He wrote it down on a piece of parchment and sewed into his coat where it was found after his death eight years later. It said,
Year of grace 1654, Monday 23 November, feast of St. Clement . . . from about half past ten at night to about half an hour after midnight, FIRE. God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob, not of philosophers and scholars. Certitude, heartfelt joy, peace. God of Jesus Christ. God of Jesus Christ. “My God and your God.” . . . Joy, Joy, Joy, tears of joy. . . Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ. May I never be separated from him.
In 1968 Pascal and C. S. Lewis and Jonathan Edwards and Dan Fuller and the Bible teamed up to change my life forever with those words, “Joy, joy, joy, tears of joy.” Here’s how Pascal blew away my resistance to joy.
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. This is the motive of every action of every man, even of those who hang themselves.
I suspected this was true. But I always feared that it was sin. That wanting to be happy was a moral defect. That self-denial meant renouncing joy, not renouncing lesser joys for greater joys.
But then God conspired with these writers to force me to reread the Bible. To give it a chance to have its true say. And what I found there concerning joy changed me forever. I have been trying to understand it and live it and teach it ever since. It’s not new. It’s been there for thousands of years.
I thank God today for Pascal’s part in my awakening.