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A Case of Schadenfreude?

January 29, 2018


Have you ever waded through a period of your life when everything seems to be going wrong?


Or, have you watched friends or family members struggling through a painful, dark phase? 



Have you ever witnessed somebody having a hard time and heard, or even said yourself, the phrase "Wow, it sucks to be you?"


If so, you may be suffering from the nasty affliction of "schadenfreude."


Today, as I studied the twelfth chapter of Job, I believe I stumbled upon an ancient case of schadenfreude. The following is an excerpt from my Bible study work-in-progress, "Job: Shlobberknockered by Suffering:"


“A Case of Schadenfreude?”


After reading Job 12:5, “Those who are at ease have contempt for misfortune as the fate of those whose feet are slipping,” I wondered if Job was accusing his three friends—Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar-of  feeling a sense of schadenfreude.


“Schadenfreude” is a German word. Its original translation is loosely “malicious joy.” In English, we think of “schadenfreude” as “reveling in the suffering of another.”


Is it possible that in some perverse way those three friends of Job are reveling in Job’s awful suffering?


Oh yes, I’ve partied in moments of schadenfreude in darker moments of my life, too. Regrettable now, but nonetheless, yes, they did happen:


“I felt a warm, comforting sense of satisfaction when I learned that Ted, a usual straight-A student in my class, got a B in Calculus.”


“I chuckled to myself when my vegetarian friend just realized she ate some chicken in that casserole.”


“I always feel some perverse satisfaction when CEO’s get shackled and dragged off to jail for their hidden sins.”