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Finding Pleasure in Other’s Pain

Finding Pleasure in Other’s Pain

Whoever mocks the poor insults his Maker; he who is glad at calamity will not go unpunished. Proverbs 17:5

My family occasionally watches a TV show comprised of funny home videos, in which the dad usually gets hit in the groin with a baseball bat or a golf ball. I always find it funny, which disturbs my daughter. Why would you laugh at someone else’s pain? I think the answer is obvious. It’s funny when it’s not me.

The videos remain entertaining to me, but it’s not quite as humorous when I do this to those I know in real life. If I’m honest, at times, I find myself cheering for the failure of others. There are those people – whom I disagree with or whom I dislike – who annoy me when they do well and who amuse me when they fail.

Today’s passage speaks to this dark sentiment in which we applaud the misery of others. The writer insists that when we do this, we insult God and invite destruction upon ourselves. The problem for many of us is that this is a guilty pleasure in which we can indulge in the dark, secret places of our mind. Perhaps it is here, where no one else sees, that this bitter resentment wreaks its toxic influence upon us.

When we indulge in this kind of hatefulness, we turn our minds from God to our petty, immature self. In this state, we cannot love God and we certainly cannot love our neighbor. We may feel immediate gratification when we find happiness in the pain of others, but just like the high of a drug, this is a lie that gives way to a poisoning of our souls.

If we desire to love and obey God, then we must identify and kill these bitter, hateful thoughts. We must choose to be saddened by the distress of others. Even if we don’t particularly like certain people, God loves them. In choosing to feel for them, our hearts will be transformed, and we will begin to love as God wants us to love.

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  1. Dana Olson says:

    This is a tough one. I have had the thought, “What goes around comes around”. I know I have thought, “serves him or her right.” Does that count as rejoicing at suffering?

    • Scott says:

      That’s a tough one. It is necessary sometimes to recognize and allow consequences, but I guess the difference is in our heart. Am I finding perverse pleasure in the suffering of someone else or am I simply recognizing that destructive behavior sometimes requires painful consequences? God knows my heart and if I’m honest, so do I.

  2. Samuel Greene says:

    Proverbs 24:17-18

  3. Dana Olson says:

    Natural consequences to actions are what I had in mind. Perhaps “Serves him/her right” is harsh. I recall recent news where poachers in South Africa were consumed by a pride of lions. I didn’t think they deserved to die. My thought was that they were using horrible judgment. They had to have known the risks and chose to take them for reasons I do not know.

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