Deafening Pride

On my way through Las Bougainvilleas neighborhood in Coronado, I noticed Calle De Lesseps. I don’t know if it was meant to be a joke, but the road is a very short cul-de-sac. It accesses all of three homes.

If you’re not familiar with Canal history, Ferdinand de Lesseps was the French diplomat and developer who began … but could not finish the Panama Canal. He dug a very short cul-de-sac of a ditch that destroyed fortunes and buried 20,000 Frenchmen.

This astonishing failure of such a national hero shocked all of France, especially de Lesseps himself. He was a giant to the public and considered himself an unstoppable force.

He had already done what the world said could not be done by constructing the Suez Canal. The much shorter trade route between Europe and East Asia opened in 1869, ahead of schedule and below budget. But the very success that drove de Lesseps towards greater things was also his undoing.

David McCullough in, The Path Between the Seas, paints a picture of Ferdinand as a man deafened by pride. He consulted the world’s best engineers (Eiffel for one) and then discarded their advice to use a system of locks. De Lesseps mantra became, “A sea level canal or no canal at all.” It turned out to be a self-fulfilling prophecy. For Ferdinand there would be no canal, only failure and infamy.

King Rehoboam, faltered at the beginning of his reign, but found success when he followed the Lord. But that success went to his head. 2 Chronicles 12:1 records, “After Rehoboam’s position as king was established and he had become strong, he and all Israel with him abandoned the law of the LORD.”

King Hezekiah, one of Judah’s best rulers, also succumbed to pride. “In those days Hezekiah became ill and was at the point of death. He prayed to the Lord, who answered him and gave him a miraculous sign. But Hezekiah’s heart was proud and he did not respond to the kindness shown him; therefore the Lord’s wrath was on him and on Judah and Jerusalem.” 2 Chronicles 32:24-26

Unfortunately, there are many ancient and contemporary examples of men and women destroyed by pride in the second half of their life. If you want to finish well, remain humble before God and cultivate a heart that praises Him for all success and blessing.
The Holy Bible: New International Version. (1984). (2 Ch 12:1). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.