What are you willing to give up? Have you taken the time to consider that lately? What possessions or finances are you willing to give up? What do you spend your time doing that you are willing to devote to something else? Things you have leftover or don’t need anymore are easy to give. Are you willing to give up things that are actually wants and not necessary in your life? When pressed, we are often willing to give up our wants in order to help someone else out. We often think of this as a sacrifice. But is it really a sacrifice? Or just our reasonable service?
According to Merrriam-Webster’s Dictionary, Sacrifice is the act of giving up something that you want to keep especially in order to get or do something else or to help someone.
I’ve had to decide what I am willing to sacrifice to battle cancer. I’ve had to give up many things I want in order to keep the cancer in my body at bay. Probably the hardest thing for me has been giving up my energy and adjusting to a state of constant fatigue. I have had to cut back on my activities and commitments, as well as my family’s. We have to prayerfully consider what God wants us to say yes to and to what degree. He always provides the energy and resources to do the things He leads me to do.
Cancer and cancer treatment has required me to sacrifice comfort to many unwanted side effects. The treatment that attacks and kills the cancer also attacks and kills healthy cells causing many issues in the amazing complexities of the human body God created for us. With digestive issues, neurological problems, immune system depletion, and hormonal imbalances alone, it is quite astounding how resilient our bodies can be to fight this disease.
I have devoted 4 years of my life to fighting cancer now. That has taken a lot of time and sacrifice. What else have I devoted my life to that requires great sacrifice? I have been a wife devoted to my husband and our marriage for 16 years now. That has taken a lot of time and sacrifice. II have been a mom for 12 years now. Wow! Parents, you know what kind of sacrifice it takes to lovingly raise a child! I have been a Christ-follower for 30 years now. That has taken a lot of time and sacrifice. But when we sacrifice out of love, it is not hard to make the choice to put the needs of someone else before our own needs and comforts.
Love requires sacrifice. Matthew 22:37-39 says, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” This takes deliberate action on our part. It will require sacrifice on our part. Our natural tendency is to love ourselves. “I deserve this,” we often tell ourselves. I work hard; I’m entitled to a little “me time”. A common idea in our society today is, “Take care of yourself first and then you will be able to better help others.” We are to be good stewards of what God has given us, and that includes taking care of our bodies which are the temple of the Holy Spirit, but the Bible doesn’t say anything about taking care of our own needs and then you will be able to serve God and love others around you. We are to love Him and love others and He “will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)
We often hear these days the phrase “pay it forward”, carrying the idea that when someone blesses us, we can in turn bless others. But that is not really a sacrifice, is it? We like to feel good about helping someone else when some unexpected blessing falls into our lap. But we are to live a life of love, putting the needs of others before our own. It is amazing the things God will do when we are willing to sacrifice and love. Personally, my husband and I are absolutely in awe over and over again at God’s provision when we are willing to sacrifice. Just in the past few months we have again seen God provide for our family in amazing ways! Whenever we see a need and are committed to find a way to help no matter the cost to us, God always makes a way. If it is a sacrifice of our time and energy when we are already bone tired and weary, He gives supernatural strength to do it.
Many often comment to me, “I don’t know how you do it. I know how tired I am from life, and I’m not battling cancer.” I can confidently answer that it is only by God’s grace and strength that I can do what I do! He gives me strength to get out of bed when my body doesn’t want to. He gives energy for me to keep my commitments. He gives me time to devote to my kids when they need help or encouragement. He gives me time to pray for a hurting friend. He gives me rest when I need it. Oftentimes this comes through the love and sacrifice of my dear husband in rearranging his schedule to help with watching the kids or preparing meals when I can’t. Sometimes it is a friend taking my kiddos so I can have a quiet house to rest in. At times it has even been a stranger dropping off a meal at just the time we need it.
If I care for and help others in need around me, God promises to guide me and provide for my every need! Who around you needs a helping hand, kind word, or listening ear today?
“If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.” (Is. 58:9-11)
How will you spend yourself in behalf of those in need today? If it is a sacrifice of our finances, God provides. I can’t tell you how many times we see a need arise that we commit to meet or an unexpected bill comes in and we receive a gift that exactly covers the cost. Many times a fellow Christian was led to give the gift for whatever we need it for, not knowing we have a specific need at all. And it is the exact amount to pay the unexpected expense. Or it will exactly pay for what we have sacrificed to help someone else.
So instead of paying it forward when you are blessed, will you commit to sacrificing to love God and others first? When we sacrifice, trusting that God will provide, He always does.
My new chemotherapy treatment has required sacrifice and many adjustments to my life once again. It has taken a while for my body to adjust to the new and different side effects this time. This chemo affects my white blood cell counts and requires weekly shots to keep my counts near the normal range so I can fight off other sicknesses. I have had to sacrifice my hair for a third time to chemotherapy treatment. (Thankfully it always grows back quickly and I have quite a collection of hats and head wraps now!) There are many smaller side affects, but with changes to my lifestyle and knowing my energy limitations, thankfully these are manageable with some sacrifices.
Now I can share with you the exciting results of these sacrifices! It has been amazing to watch the tumors and legions shrink and disappear before my eyes these last few weeks! Where the right side of my chest used to be all bumpy and irritated with cancerous legions that had begun to eat through the skin tissue, there is now smooth nearly healed, normal looking skin. The other lumps in my lower middle chest area have shrunk significantly and are no longer protruding. And my doctor thinks the tumor in my right lymph gland is about 1/8th the size it was when we began this treatment. It feels about the size of a pea now! Clearly this treatment is doing its job! I am so thankful for God’s healing in His time! Will you praise God with me that He is Jehovah-Rapha, the Lord who heals!? Will you pray this chemo will continue to work, and that God will continue to do His good work through this situation?
When we sacrifice, God will do amazing things! Don’t miss out on the wonderful blessings He has in store for your life!