What It Means to Sacrifice

When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941, my dad was seventeen years old. In early 1942, he decided to enlist. He and a group of his friends went to join the Marines. All my dad’s friends made it in the Marines, except my dad. They reached their quota and sent my dad to another branch to enlist in. He decided to serve in the Navy.

My dad lived on a destroyer from 1942-1945. His only time away from the ship was on shore leaves. His ship was small, and he slept cramped on a cot-like bed, ate food that was not appealing, had to follow orders and had little free time. He survived a typhoon, having bombs dropped around him, and dodging torpedoes. He also had to leave the enemy who was either shot down or their ships had sunk in the ocean because there was no room or supplies for them on his ship. He had men die beside him and has had to shoot at another human being. It was hard for my dad. He grew up during the Depression, a time when people helped one another, not destroyed each other.

He gave over three years of his life to serve his country. Today he is 93 and has never regretted it, nor did he ever complain about it. It was something he did because it was the right thing to do. It’s not something he talks about much either, but he has revealed glimpses of what it was like to his family just over the past few years.

How many parents during WWII sacrificed their sons to keep the freedoms we enjoy today? Let’s expand that to all wars and conflicts and the sacrifices made by all military personnel and their families. When I think of my dad’s WWII service and that of others, I’m reminded of Abraham and his near sacrifice of his son, Isaac.

God asked Abraham to take his son and sacrifice him. Isaac was Abraham’s only heir and the promised son provided by God. Abraham did not question or bargain with God. He immediately did as he was told. Abraham was willing to sacrifice the life of his only son.
According to the dictionary, sacrifice means to surrender or give up, or permit injury or disadvantage to, for the sake of something else. That means that it requires tremendous devotion and faith to do something so selfless.

In Abraham’s case. He had strong faith in God built on a relationship of trust. He wanted to serve the God who provided for him and loved him. In my dad’s case, he had a belief in this country and its freedoms. Both men moved forward in faith knowing the risk of forfeiting a future here on Earth.

I think of how strong faith must be to make such a sacrifice. It is a force that swells and overtakes the mind and spirit. It makes a person driven by that faith or belief system to not be able to do anything but act on it. I measure my faith against Abraham’s and come up short. I realize faith is not something that happens overnight. It is a process that comes from time spent getting to know God and learning to trust Him.

He (Jesus) replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you. Luke 17:6

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