For God so loved the world that [She] gave her only son. — John 3:16
Recently I returned to Columbia, Missouri, where I had served as campus pastor in the 80’s and 90’s. I was amazed at how young the students looked. [It couldn’t have been because I’m much older now.] That youthfulness reflected the excitement they had as they began their journey into an unknown but promising future.
But now, having parented two children, I look at those young adults and imagine the sacrifices their parents made in helping them get to this threshold of adulthood. The time and resources, and the emotional toll at times, are astounding. Think of how easier life may have been without being a parent. Monetarily, it’s been estimated that the cost to raise a child to age 18 could run as high as $300,000 for some. What could have been done with that money? And the incessant putting your needs on the shelf so you can tend to the needs of your children–that requires a hidden sacrifice that your children may never know until much later. As Garrison Keilor once noted, “The cruel injustice of motherhood is that, out of devotion to her brood, she sacrifices so much of her own life, that her children grow up to find her a little boring in comparison to the maiden aunt who is a little rebellious and more fun to be around.”
Yet, I don’t know any parent who would consider it a burden to give their children what they need to grow and prosper. Giving without counting the cost is the measure of unconditional love. It’s just what we do for our children. Maybe that’s why Jesus used the image of a parent in describing God.
It would be a profound spiritual exercise for us to note the people, such as parents, who have made hidden sacrifices so we may be the people we are today. Such folks model the sacrifices of the God who gave “Her” only son.
PS–Happy New Year!