It’s interesting the various things that we find constitute suffering. We might say suffering is going without something we’ve grown accustomed to in life. For instance, if the computer or refrigerator or furnace goes on the blink, we feel various degrees of deprivation and count it as suffering. We might be left out of a group or groups, sense a feeling of rejection, possibly very real, and describe the feelings from that experience as suffering. Or maybe we live with physical pain, chronic or acute. That can certainly be described as suffering, as is battling one’s way back from serious illness or injury.
Sacrifice, on the other hand, isn’t necessarily linked with suffering. Sacrifices, of finances or career choice or time, made by parents for their children are made gladly because of love. Sacrifice of time and money are made by parishioners of churches no matter the nation. Sacrifice of other activities, sleep, and even friends are made by those few who perfect a sport or art through much and repeated practice, study, and rehearsal. Parents, spouses, and children sacrifice their beloved soldier when that soldier is working or fighting or maybe even dying for their country. Sacrifice is for a greater good.
Suffering isn’t necessarily sacrifice, and someone who sacrifices doesn’t always need to suffer. But sometimes they are linked. It would be notable, wouldn’t it, if they were not only linked, but found in someone who could walk away from either or both, and didn’t. Wouldn’t it be amazing if someone who had everything he needed or wanted and who did everything well, suffered and sacrificed for someone who hated him in an effort to offer that horrible person a way to be saved from a horrible consequence?
If you heard about or read about someone whose appearance was nothing that attracted people you might have an opinion about him that included the word “ordinary” or even “homely”. If such a person was despised and forsaken . . . a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief . . . He was despised, and we did not esteem Him, you might think about what a sad life that person had. You would probably say he suffered.
But if, upon further examination, you found that he didn’t just carry his own grief, but carried ours, as well, you’d begin to wonder what kind of guy this was; One who suffers so much and still takes more upon himself in order to remove it from us.
And then, if you continued reading, you’d be stunned to find this same person was pierced through for our transgressions, and crushed for our iniquities. Who does that? Who takes a beating or punishment for someone else? Who dies for someone else – and not just dies, but dies an excruciating death? And who, despite the sorrow and suffering he experienced, still had an indescribable love for the very people who he not only died for, but who killed him? Who would not necessarily acknowledge him? Who would dismiss him as a myth?
One perfect man suffered and sacrificed his life. For Brussels. For Paris. For Lockerbie. For New York. For Jerusalem. For Jews. For Muslim terrorists. For Americans. For Genghis Khan and Napoleon Bonaparte. For Vladimir Putin and Hillary Clinton. For Saddam Hussein and Barack Hussein Obama. For Ted Cruz and Donald Trump. For the abortionist down the street and for the tiny baby that was aborted. For the guy at the bank. For your favorite barista. For the Kardashians, every one of them. For your grandma. For your minister. For the policeman who gave you a speeding ticket that one time and for the one who let you off with a warning. For the obnoxious kid from fourth grade you still can’t forget. For the person you pass every day on your way to work. For you. For me. For us.
Today is Good Friday, the day we remember Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. Go to church and admit your sins and tell him you’re sorry. And thank Him.
Scripture quoted from Isaiah 53; Image: putfaithfirst.blogspot.jpg