Have you heard the old story of the hen and the pig? They were walking down the street and came to a church with a sign outside: Help the needy.
They started to talk about it. The hen said: I know how we could help. We could give them ham and eggs for breakfast. The pig was horrified: That’s okay for you. For you it’s only a contribution, but for me it’s total commitment. The pig knew what that meant, and he wasn’t having any part of it.
I want to talk today about that word ‘sacrifice’. Not a very popular word, but one we know about. How many mothers have sacrificed hours of sleep trying to get their baby to sleep, or spent their last savings on their children’s education. This is sacrifice.
What is your biggest sacrifice?
What is the biggest sacrifice you’ve ever made? A really interesting question. I read online of a girl who said: Offering my brother bone marrow when he was sick. Nobody else in my family came forward which shocked me. Someone else said they moved to another country at the age of 21 to be with the love of their life, leaving family, friends and their belongings behind. No regrets.
One lady gave up studying at university to take care of her autistic son and her daughter. No regrets, although she found it incredibly difficult.
I like the story of a dying girl whose only hope was to receive blood from someone that had recovered from a disease like hers. When the doctor found the family he explained the situation and knelt by the girl’s little brother. The doctor said: Son, you recovered from this disease several years ago and now your sister needs your kind of blood to make her well. Would you be willing to give your blood so she can live? The family stood quietly around the little boy waiting for his answer.
This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. (John 15:12 – NLT)
After a few moments of thought, he swallowed past the lump in his throat and said he would give his blood. The nurses placed the boy on a bed and began taking blood from his arm. For some time he said nothing, just lying quietly and watching the blood flow from his body. Finally, he looked up at his parents and asked: Well, when do I die? That’s when the family realised the extent of the boy’s sacrifice. He was willing to die so his sister could live.
It’s not what we keep, but what we share. Not what we have, but what we spare. Not what we clasp, but what we lose. Not what we hide, but what we use.
Stories of great sacrifice
Father Ross Jones of Saint Ignatius’ College, in Riverview here in Sydney, tells the story of an American Jesuit missionary, Father Carl Hausmann, working in the Philippines during World War II. He was taken prisoner of war by the Japanese and put into a camp. As the war was ending, he and 500 others POWs were loaded into the hold of a transport ship to be taken away. But they were forgotten about. It became a floating hell with very little food: two spoonfuls of rice every third day. But Father Hausmann gave away his rice without hesitation until he died of starvation and exposure. They just dropped his body, along with many others, over the side of the ship. He sacrificed his life for others.
I think of another great person, Hudson Taylor. Hudson Taylor was a missionary to China. From an early age, he had a desire to spread the Gospel in China. He made numerous personal sacrifices, endured many hardships in his service as a missionary, but it is clear his sacrifices greatly impacted God’s eternal kingdom. The historian Ruth Tucker wrote of him the following:
No other missionary in the nineteen centuries since the Apostle Paul has had a wider vision and has carried out a more systematized plan of evangelizing a broad geographical area than Hudson Taylor.