As we look at the images that continue to come out of Haiti, it's almost overwhelming, just the scope of the suffering.
And of course people are all ready pointing fingers trying to pin the blame for the devastation on the Haitian government, the lack of infrastructure, the UN's response. Hugo Chavez is even insisting it was caused by America's "earthquake machine."
The fact of the matter is that as awful as suffering is, it cannot be avoided. Because suffering is part of the Curse. It's a part of life in this fallen world. You cannot avoid suffering. The question is, "How will you respond to it?"
Ernest Gordon was a British soldier in WWII. He was captured by the Japanese. And he was made to work with thousands of other POWs on what was called the "Death Railroad," along the valley of the Kwai River in Thailand. The conditions were awful.
The men were forced to work for hours in scorching temperatures, chopping their way through tangled jungles. Those who paused out of exhaustion were beaten to death by the guards. They were given almost no food. Gordon who was 6'3" weighed less than 100 pounds. They say that 1-2 thousand prisoners died for every five miles that was built. Eighty thousand died in those jungles.
It got so bad that Ernest Gordon said in his memoirs that their initial response of fear soon turned to hate and envy. The men became like beasts trying to survive, at each other's throats. They went back to the law of the jungle.
He says, "Death was everywhere. As conditions worsened, our lives became poisoned by selfishness, hate and fear. Formerly we had huddled together because of our fears believing there was safety in numbers. We had still shown some consideration for one another.
Now that was gone, completely swept away. Existence had become so miserable. The odds so heavily against us that nothing mattered except to survive. We lived by the rule of the jungle, the law of tooth and claw."
Theft was as rampant as hunger and disease. Life was met with indifference, deceit, and hatred- by captive and captor alike.
In this evening's passage, we will see three different responses to suffering. Like the men on the "Death Railroad," one response is out of Fear. Another response is out of Envy and Hate. But the third response is altogether different. This passage brings us to the suffering of Christ's crucifixion. At the end of v. 15, Jesus is delivered to be scourged and to be crucified.
In Mark 15:1-20, we see three responses to suffering.