“Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable… Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.” Martin Luther King, Jr.
Progress doesn’t happen without the sacrifie of something or someone. Our sacrifices serve as the fuel that drives progress. Moving forward does not happen until something else dies, is given up or is traded in. I remember, as a little kid, the fist time I ever used some of my own money to buy something. I desperately wanted the pack of cherry Lifesavers. They were my favorite. In an attempt to teach me lessons about money, my dad had said, “You can have them. But you’ll have to use your own money.” Suddenly, three things happened for me:
1.) having the Lifesavers did not seem quite so important. I had to stop and think about whether or not the 25 cents it would cost (I told you this was a long time ago) was really worth the momentary joy of sour cherry filling my mouth.
2.) the Lifesavers took on greater value. You see, it was easy for me to devour the Lifesavers when they came at someone else’s cost–my dad’s pocket change instead of mine. In fact, they became almost “precious” because to attain them meant a sacrifice on my part.
3.) I learned a valuable lesson about other people’s money as well as my own.
But we’re not just talking about money. We’re talking about progress across a broad spectrum of subjects. To reach the moon, men and women had to put their lives on the line. Money had to be spent. Thousands of hours had to be invested to watch Neil Armstrong take his first “giant step.” Sacrifice.
For the plague of segregation to come to an end in America and for us to begin the process of healing, people like Martin Luther King Jr and Rosa Parks had to sacrifice their comfort and their convenience so others would know about the plight of minorities in our nation. Sacrifice.
To put a stop to the tyranny of Nazi Germany and the Empire of Japan, untold thousands of people would have to give of themselves, even to the point of death, so that the world could be free. Seventy-one years ago today, on a sleepy Sunday morning in Hawaii, an entire generation launched into years of sacrifice so the tyranny would end. Sacrifice.
In fact, for you and I to even take our first breath, we had mothers who had to sacrifice their comfort so that we could know life (a fact that is wasted on people who support the anti-life movement of those who seek a woman’s right to choose. What they seek is convenience for the mother. Convenience and expectant mother probably should not be used in the same sentence. Another subject for another day.) It requires sacrifice.
We are a generation that has, by and large, lost the meaning of the word. We love the idea of spending other people’s money without having to sacrifice to get our own. We bow to the gods of comfort and convenience in complete denial of how we are asking future generations to sacrifice. The sacrifices of great leaders who led our nation in the past have been lost in a sea of egos, greed and self-serving arrogance. How will we ever regain the value of sacrifice in order to see our families, our communities and our nation move forward?
My belief is that it begins with sacrifice. You don’t gain until you lose. You don’t know progress until you trade hard work in exchange. You can’t know what could possibly be until you leave behind the comfort of what already is. Don’t believe me? Then ask the One who started this whole sacrifice thing by giving the ultimate sacrifice:
…but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died (sacrificed) for us. Romans 5:8 ESV
But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him. Romans 5:8 The Message
On a day when we honor the sacrifice of 2,400 men and women from Pearl Harbor, let us pledge to never forget the glory in sacrifice…both theirs and His.