Sacrifice and pain

I’ve heard it said a few times that sacrifice is when we do something for another that involves pain. However, I’m not sure the concept of sacrifice is connected to hardship. Although the measure of deprivation may indicate the dearness of a sacrifice, the act is confirmed, not by harm, but by the spirit of the gift.

“Making something sacred” can even be a joyful process. For example, if I am eating something delicious, and a person I love comments that they would like some, I would share it. In fact, sharing it with them is more enjoyable than keeping it to myself. I am certainly sacrificing – giving up something I enjoy for the sake of friendship – but it has little to do with feeling hurt.

I wonder if the emphasis on pain might be due to our upbringing. Rather than knowing God as the source of all joy – and every we action we perform on His behalf leading us toward a greater experience of His love – I have heard from childhood that spirituality is about escaping who we are, and the attendent pains of self-denial. If there were more of a God focus than an individual focus, perhaps we would translate our religious ideas in terms of what brings us more than happiness, than what brings us more pain.