The “Brave New World” of the 21st Century requires a “Brave New Discipleship” strategy.

Is there more than: Life is Hard and Then You Die?!?

Posted on: October 11, 2016



One of the truths that helps get me through hard times is the belief that every trial has something greater on the other side, either in this world or in the world to come. We have to believe that there is something worth it on the other side. Otherwise, life is sometimes reduced to the bumper sticker phrase: Life is hard and then you die!

When we are stuck in the middle of a trial that won’t go away, that doesn’t seem to have any acceptable purpose, that doesn’t seem to have anything on the other side, life gets very hard.

Yet Scripture tells us that there is always something on the other side… something that we can only see with the eyes of faith.

Hebrews 11:6 says, “without faith it is impossible to please him, for He who comes to God must believe that He is and that he is a rewarder of those who seek Him.

In this context, an obscure poem written John Newton, the author of Amazing Grace, has been a great encouragement and rich blessing to me.

Prayers Answered by Crosses ~ John Newton

I asked the Lord that I might grow in faith and love and every grace,

Might more of His salvation know, and seek more earnestly His face.

“Twas He who taught me thus to pray; and He, I trust, has answered prayer;

But it has been in such a way as almost drove me to despair.

I hoped that in some favored hour, at once He’d answer my request,

And by His love’s constraining power, subdue my sins and give me rest.

Instead of this, He made me feel the hidden evils of my heart,

And let the angry powers of hell assault my soul in every part.

Yea, more, with His own hand He seemed intent to aggravate my woe,

Crossed all the fair designs I schemed, blasted my gourds* and laid me low.

“Lord, why this?” I trembling cried; “Wilt Thou pursue thy worm to death?”

“Tis in this way,” the Lord replied, “I answer prayer for grace and faith.

“These inward trials I employ from self and pride to set thee free,

And break thy schemes of earthly joy, that thou may’st seek thy all in Me.”

(* A reference to the gourd that protected Jonah – Jonah 4:6)

Doesn’t that say at all? We pray for grace and faith, and assume that God will powder us with divine pixie dust, giving us a calm and serene capacity to shepherd ourselves toward a well-ordered life, with God faithfully blessing our lofty desires.

Instead, we may find ourselves locked in battles, both internal and external, that sometimes make us feel as though God himself has turned against us. However, it is all part of God’s strategy for transforming us into his image. It is what C. S. Lewis called “severe mercy.”

So, when we are locked in our black box of trials, we must look with the eyes of faith to see these purposes on the other side:

  1. The potential for greater ministry (2 Corinthians 1:3-4.)
  2. The potential for greater spiritual completeness (James 1:2-4).
  3. The potential for greater thankfulness and worship (1 Peter 1:6).
  4. The potential for eternal reward (Romans 8:18).
  5. And, as Newton says in his poem, the destruction of  “schemes of joy” so that we might find full and complete joy in Him (Galatians 2:20).

When we view life with an eternal perspective, we are never reduced to the phrase, “Life Is Hard and Then You Die.” God is always with us, and is always preparing us for something greater on the other side… something that can only be seen with the eyes of faith.

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