There is no exact word for it in English, but the Germans have one: Schadenfreude (SHAH den froy deh). Schadenfreude is a spiritual sickness that leads you to enjoy other people’s misery. So who tends to do that? People who feel cheated in life . . . people who resent other people’s successes and secretly enjoy it when they later struggle . . . people who feel weak . . . people who feel miserable and want some company.
The divine Father who stooped low in mercy to lift us up cannot stand it when we show no mercy to the other fools and sinners around us. “He who mocks the poor shows contempt for their Maker; whoever gloats over disaster will not go unpunished” (Proverbs 17:5). God takes no joy in human pain or suffering, and he forbids Schadenfreude in us as well.
As faith in Christ more and more takes over our hearts, we will hurt when we see others hurting. We will weep with those who weep and comfort those who have to bear affliction. As we reflect on the Savior who bore our griefs and carried our sorrows, we will offer to be Jesus’ hug and voice to people in their time of need.
An added plus of visible Christian compassion is that it authenticates what we say. As the old evangelism slogan goes, people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.
We all have doubts and uncertainties about many things, and with those comes a tension between trusting God and also taking personal responsibility. It’s from wanting a childlike faith but needing to be a grown-up Christian.
We can trust God and take responsibility for our choices and actions at the same time. In this book, the author encourages you to think deeply about what it means to trust God and at the same time use the gifts and blessings that he has given you to act according to his will.
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