As we were running our kids between 4H, a parade, feeding the pigs, and picking up football pads, it hit me the sacrifices we make for our children. Much of our lives are spent sacrificing for our children. We earn money to support our children, we stay up late to make sure they are home by curfew, and we spend a lot of time worrying about what kinds of people they will grow up to be. Why do we make all of these sacrifices? It is because we love our children. Sure, there is the occasion (sometimes frequent occasion) where the kids are screaming, throwing a fit, or bothering each other that we just want to retreat into our bathrooms or closets and just have some alone time. Most of the time we sacrifice for our children because we want them to be happy and we know our sacrifice will be worth it.
Just as we make sacrifices for our children, so too does our Heavenly Father sacrifice for his children. Of course, our Heavenly Father made the ultimate sacrifice of his son, Jesus Christ, as we are taught in John 3:16:
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
However, just as children often do not realize all of the sacrifices made by their parents, we often do not realize all of the sacrifices made by our Heavenly Father. Our Heavenly Father sacrificed a third of the host of Heaven so that the rest of his children would have the opportunity to come to earth to gain a body, have free agency, and the opportunity to return to Him. Our Heavenly Father sacrifices each time he allows his children to exercise their free agency to hurt each other, to fight wars, and to cheat and lie to each other. Our Heavenly Father sacrifices each time he sees his children hurting as they suffer through heartache, divorce, abuse, and loneliness.
Why does our Heavenly Father make so many sacrifices for his children? Because he knows, just like we do, that sacrifice is required for his children to grow and become more like him. The Prophet in delivering a lecture on faith emphasized this truth when he said, “… a religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation.” (Sixth Lecture on Faith, paragraph 7.)
As we sacrifice, as we forego our own wants to provide for our children, as we spend countless hours worrying about our children, we become more like our Heavenly Father. We come to realize that as we sacrifice for our children, not only do they grow to become good adults, but we become more like our Heavenly Father. Our Heavenly Father requires us to sacrifice for our children so that we can prepare to sacrifice as He does for all of His children.
President Faust provided guidance to every parent in a 1990 General Conference talk titled “The Greatest Challenge in the World—Good Parenting.” In his talk he shared:
But whatever the era, whatever the times, one thing will never change: Fathers and mothers, if you have children, they must come first. You must read to your children and you must hug your children and you must love your children. Your success as a family, our success as a society, depends not on what happens in the White House but on what happens inside your house.
Just as our Heavenly Father sacrifices each day for his children, so too are we required to sacrifice for our children. As we do so we receive the blessings from heaven as our children become more like us as we become more like our Heavenly Father. Let us all sacrifice a little more for our children that we may all return to our Heavenly Father and become as he is, the perfect Sacrificer.