Some sacrifices are freely chosen. We’re not tricked or misguided, but rather submit with our eyes wide open to the cost required of us. And this is a noble suffering when it is done to bring good to others.
Christ laid his life down willingly. It was not taken from him. And he endured the cross for our sakes – that we might have life and every spiritual blessing. Following his example, we must also regularly submit to a noble suffering.
For instance, this is much of parenthood – our willingness to endure many sleepless nights, long hours at work, and heart wrenching decisions to provide our kids with a good life as best as we can. But while much is required of us, these are sacrifices we’re more than willing to make for their sakes.
In marriage, we must also be willing to give up our life for our wife. To be sure, this is not simply about trying to make her happy. But it does often call us to be the first to move toward her in love even when she’s not being loving toward us – being patient, kind, and speaking words of life over her regardless of us getting this in return. This is not fair. But it is worth the cost to see her become all God has created her to be.
Likewise, we might choose to endure thankless jobs, face the harsh criticism of public opinions, or accept the loneliness of going against the status quo to faithfully fulfill God’s call for our life. We choose to suffer to make an impact for good in the world.
Whatever it looks like, this is not suffering for its own sake or even merely playing the hand we’ve been dealt. A noble suffering is an active and intentional choice to suffer as an act of love for others.
In the end, love requires many personal sacrifices. And it’s a noble suffering to willingly pay this cost to bring good to others.