The fourth of July has come and gone. For most of us in the United States, it was a day of fireworks and celebration. It is, in fact, a national holiday to celebrate our independence. How wonderful it is to be free! Yet there is much that lies beneath the surface of such a day.

Freedom was bittersweet for the mother who lost her two sons and now nursed a crippled husband, after the war of independence was won.

It was difficult to rejoice in the empty frontier cabin built by the young fiancee to be shared with his bride to be as soon as he returned. Unfortunately he — and many others — never did return.

No, freedom has never been free for everyone. Someone, sometimes many someones, paid a terrible cost.

Perhaps with every celebration day, there should also be a moment of remembrance for the cost. Every freedom we enjoy has come at a terrible cost — a mother or father, a husband or wife, a son or a daughter, brother or sister, was left grieving for every freedom that we enjoy. Who could ever put a value to such a high price for the freedoms we enjoy?

And the greatest freedom of all, freedom from sin and death, is no different. It was purchased at the greatest cost of all. The Father, who did not have to, gave His Son, who could have chosen not to give up His life, to purchase freedom for a people who did not really seem to care.

It was purchased at the greatest cost of all.
We may never really know what makes one sacrifice his or her life to benefit others. We certainly will not understand why "God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life." (John 3:16)

Why Jesus should choose to die for all humankind — and each of us individually — is beyond our ability to understand. The Scripture says, "While we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Why, one will hardly die for a righteous man — though perhaps for a good man one will dare even to die. But God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us." (Romans 5:6-8 RSV)

Our forefathers died for family and friends. Our Lord died for His disobedient creation. Many a hero died in fierce defiance of his enemy. Jesus died out of love for them. Rejoice in your freedom ... but please, shed a tear for its cost!