February 4, 2010
(Jesus said) "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly." John 10:10
You may not know the German word that serves as the title of our devotion.
Phonetically, it is shod-en-froy-de. It means getting a little laugh out of someone else's misfortune. Recently, the United Press International had a few examples of the word, "schadenfreude."
The first story told how a Florida man checked himself into a Florida hospital. The police wanted to know how he happened to get a bullet in his leg. The man was reluctant to say. The police, fearing some foul play, put on the pressure. Finally, the man confessed.
He had been at his girlfriend's backyard when the accident happened. He was practicing his quick draw like a western-type cowboy. He was putting the gun into the holster like a western-type cowboy. Then he accidentally pulled the trigger and shot himself, unlike a western-type cowboy.
Now if you pictured that story in your mind's eye, and if you smiled, that's schadenfreude.
Here's another. In Vaxjo, Sweden, 20 dieters at a Swedish Weight Watchers clinic said the floor of their building collapsed when they were at a weigh-in. The folks -- all of whom escaped without injury -- said they heard a "crack." Shortly after that the floor gave way.
The group finished their weigh-in at a different location.
Now, please don't write and tell me I dislike folks who are a bit not skinny or who are gun shooters. I'm a lot not skinny and I love to shoot guns. But, seriously, didn't you smile . . . just a little? If so, that's schadenfreude. And so is laughing at the pratfall of a slapstick comedian, or cackling when you watch one of those funniest home video shows and someone drops a wedding cake or the groom faints. That's schadenfreude.
Now, I can't be sure, but I believe the Lord who created the giraffe and the platypus also has a sense of humor. I also believe His humor never extends to being amused at our misfortune.
On the contrary, the Lord, moved by our lost condition, sent His Son to save us. Jesus left heaven's bliss and perfection to walk the dusty roads of some poor provinces in the Roman Empire. There, unappreciated, unapplauded, and unloved, He gave His life so we might be saved. He died, rose, ascended, and sends His Spirit upon us.
And if you wonder why, maybe it's because the Lord didn't want Satan laughing at our misfortune on Judgment Day. Maybe He wanted to rob Satan of schadenfreude.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, I give thanks You took pity upon this sinful world and the sacrifice You made for my salvation. Now may I do all I can to make sure Satan has no schadenfreude on Judgment Day. In Your Name. Amen.
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries