Does Sacrifice Make One Unhappy?



I have a question which has troubled me a lot. It is known that saints sacrificed their own happiness for that of others, and they worked towards ameliorating the sufferings of the poor. If i were to follow, how far is it justified to sacrifice one's happiness to alleviate suffering of others? What if in the process, i become unhappy?

—Vinay, India


Dear Vinay,

You misunderstand the saints. The saints do things that may look to you like sacrificing their personal happiness. But the reason they do these selfless acts is that, in the process of serving others selflessly, they feel increasing joy.

A true saint feels himself to be a channel for God, and the more he gives, the more he feels God’s love and joy flowing through him.

It is admirable that you are thinking of trying to alleviate the suffering of others. If you focus only on what you are accomplishing outwardly, you will indeed become unhappy because there is so much suffering in the world, and what any one of us can do is so small.

Mother Teresa was asked how she could feel successful about what she was doing, since there were so many poor and dying and she could help ony the smallest fraction.

Her reply was: “I’m not trying to be successful. I’m trying to be faithful.”

God asked her to help the poor, and she was serving Him in her service of the poor, feeling his love flowing through her as she served.

So, in your case, first try to connect with your love for God inwardly. Hold up a prayer to ask where He wants you to serve. When you feel inspiration, begin in little ways to help others. Try to offer your day of service to God, try to feel his love flowing through you. Work hard, work energetically, but maintain your sense of inner peace and connection with God’s joy as you work.

You will find that if you serve in this way what you do will inspire you spiritually as well as help others.

In divine friendship,