Getting ready for bed last night, there were signs…the onset. As the sun rose this morning, it had arrived. A real malady. I felt like the hero in Kafka’s short story, The Metamorphosis, who woke up one morning to find he had turned into a giant bug overnight! When your wife wakes up, looks you in the eyes, and exclaims, “Good Lord!” there’s a problem. (I don’t think my wife actually said those words as she is very kind and sweet. She had a smile on her face, but I’m pretty sure I saw that exclamation in her eyes.)
Anyway, what do you do when you get sick? Pray? Cast out demons? No. Of course, the first thing you do is check Web MD. As I grabbed my phone and started the search, I expected a prognosis of maybe a few months left on this earth. Instead, I was quite pleased to learn that many, many people suffer this same malady. I got some advice for treatment, and I hope to be through this “Valley of the Shadow of Death” soon.
But I started to think…
What’s wrong with me that I got happy to learn that others suffer? That’s the real malady here. I need a doctor AND a shrink! The Germans, who have invented words for everything, call it Schadenfreude. A compound word of suffering + joy. It’s the joy in the misfortune of others.
Then I kept thinking…
Schadenfreude is a legitimate human emotion. I realized I find comfort in Paul’s declaration: “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.“ (1 Corinthians 10:13, NIV) I’m not alone in my temptations and issues. I find even MORE comfort from the author of Hebrews. Speaking of Jesus he says: “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin.“ (Hebrews 4:15, NIV)
I guess there’s a real security in knowing that I’m not alone in this world. Others have gone through what I’m going through and have survived. And the beautiful thing about the incarnation is that Jesus himself has gone through these things as well – so not only does he sympathize, but he intercedes to the Father on my behalf – from a sympathetic and even empathetic perspective. After all, that’s the point: “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.“ (Hebrews 4:16, NIV)
So, whatever you’re going through…hang in there! We’ve all been there, and Jesus has got this!