The dictionary defines sacrifice as something surrendered or destroyed for the sake of something considered having a higher or moral value.
Let’s examine what this means. In times long past, people sacrificed animals to their gods, believing that the sacrifice of something this special (i.e. food) was giving up something to please a higher authority. We Christians pray to the Son of God who was sacrificed for us on the cross. Jesus gave his life to show that death was not everlasting, and that when we die, we only pass from one existence to a much finer and more blessed state.
In both cases, sacrifice was made for a more defined good outcome.
In other cases, I consider that I sacrificed many hours and a lot of money pursuing my education, ending with teaching at both the secondary school and college levels. I pray that my sacrifice enabled many young students to find their way on their own paths of life. My wife sacrificed many hours of leisure with her husband to work to jobs to help put our children through college without the debt that so many suffer with now.
In these cases, sacrifice was made for a more defined good outcome.
Around the world, there are many people dying in useless wars; others are migrating away from the conflicts, moving into refugee camps where their lives are miserable. In other parts of the world, there are people suffering without sufficient food or water to live healthy lives. In some countries, such as the United States, there are people being incarcerated in tent cities, because they are not deemed good enough to immigrate into our beloved, but mistaken, country. There are also millions in prison, who, when their records are examined closely, do not deserve to be there. I had a student in one of my college classes, who spent several months in a Virginia jail because in his possession was too much marijuana. The police accused him of selling it; they refused to accept that it was all his. He went on to become a successful college student and then an advocate for human rights.
These people are sacrificed for something quite a bit less than a more defined good. To me, their lives are sacrificed because narrow-minded people feel that their opinions and needs are greater than those suffering.
One of the more disgraceful types of sacrifice is that experienced by our veterans. I know too many homeless veterans, who suffer daily from the psychological experiences faced in combat roles. These veterans are cast aside by people who feel that they are no longer worthy . . . of what?
Jesus preached about the poor and needy. He brought great comfort to many who suffered under the rule of both Rome and the self-aggrandized religious leaders of his times. He demonstrated to them that there is a greater voice than the selfish, egotistical rulers.
I was recently asked what my purpose in life is, now that I have retired from teaching. My only response is that through my writing, my prayer mentoring, my sitting by the bedside of a sick person, praying for their physical and spiritual recovery, I pray that I am doing something to relieve their sacrifices. I believe that is what God has prepared me for my entire life. All the failures and successes I have had were guided by His hand to prepare me to be a better prayer counselor to my brothers and sisters in distress.
May God continue to lead my path in the light of His love.