This Hard Land

  "Hey there mister can you
   tell me what happened to 
   the seeds I've sown?
   Can you give me a reason
   sir, as to why they've
   never grown?
   They've just blown around
   from town to town
   Till they're back out
   on these fields where
   they fall from my hand
   Back into the dirt of 
   this hard land."
    ~Bruce Springsteen~
 
 

Futility & Frustrations

This Hard Land is a great song that has a lost and almost forgotten history. Written during the 1982 Born in the U.S.A. sessions it got set aside, only to be dusted off more than a decade later.

In 1995 while putting together a Greatest Hits compilation album, This Hard Land was recorded with the E Street Band; it rapidly became a concert staple.

In the lyrics, Springsteen raises uncertainties that trouble every one of us from time to time.

Like it or not, sometimes life can have a meaningless treadmill quality to it. We plug away and plug away, but for what purpose?

Futility settles in. Seasons come and seasons go, but our lives have no apparent rhyme or reason. Frustrations crawl up on our backs to wear us down. Futility takes root.

We come to the conclusion that sometimes life just flat-out sucks. Strong words, but regardless of how it is expressed, the discouraging elements of life are universal in nature.

Booker T. Washington was fully acquainted with the crop failures of this hard land.
Booker T. Washington was fully acquainted with the crop failures of this hard land.

Hard Times

Life is hard. Life can be unfair. Life is not a physical, emotional, mental or spiritual easy street. Bad things can and do happen to seemingly good people. But in the grand scheme of eternity, even hard knocks and misfortune have a design.

Booker T. Washington made the following observation: “No man should be pitied because every day of his life he faces a hard, stubborn problem. It is the man who has no problems to solve, no hardships to face, who is to be pitied. He has nothing in his life which will strengthen and form his character, nothing to call out his latent powers and deepen and widen his hold on life.”

It is how we choose to respond to life that makes all the difference. Trials and setbacks can turn us into bitter and jaundiced people or those same hardships can grind the flaws and rough edges off our character to strengthen and polish us.

Adversity will beat us down or toughen us up, depending on what exists in our heart. The inequities of life abound, so we either cover up with some false sense of security or we tap into a supernatural grace under pressure that lifts us up and sustains us through our darkest hours.

Good News

The good news is that God has made provision for the hardness of the world; God offers strength in the face of our weakness. 

That is what New Testament writers referred to as the gospel: God’s everlasting love for his creation caused him to enter human history as Jesus Christ to absorb the totality of life’s futility, indignities and injustices. 

As Jesus of Nazareth, rejection, betrayal and sorrows cloaked God’s physical time on earth. He hoped, he dreamed, he suffered, he died—but rose triumphant from the grave conquering sin and death. 

Now, not only will Christ exist in our heart to be the hope of glory, but he will also walk with us through those difficult and trying times; he will be with us even to make sense out of those meaningless treadmill days we all encounter.

When crop failures are plentiful do you possess the spiritual resources to be secure?

  • Definitely
  • Perhaps
  • Time Will Tell
  • No Opinion
See results without voting

Direction & Significance

We are free moral agents. If we choose to reject the realities of our spiritual dimension, then our lives will unfold as a series of pointless merry-go-round rides to nowhere special. We will spin and spin in endless endeavors to track a soul-satisfying course, only to discover that our physical existence is a hollow façade.

But when we acknowledge that we are simply created beings in desperate need of a relationship with our transcendent Creator, then our lives take on meaning and purpose.

When we surrender to the truth of life on God’s terms by accepting Christ as our Lord and Savior, then even the daunting hard places of despair are filled with direction and significance.

Hey there mister can you tell me what happened to the seeds I’ve sown? What’s up with this hard land is this: Life is a package deal. The highs are always set-off by the lows; the triumphs are always balanced by the defeats.

Life comes equipped with mountains to climb, rivers to cross and valleys to traverse. Challenges are part and parcel of the human experience—to say otherwise is to sequester one’s self in a rose-colored fantasyland of make-believe.

The question truly becomes this: When crop failures are plentiful do we possess the spiritual resources to be settled and secure?

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Comments 40 comments

RevLady profile image

RevLady 6 years ago from Lantana, Florida

I was impressed with the title of this hub Ken, for it seems to describe life as we are experiencing it today.

I believe as you stated, "Life is hard. Life can be unfair. Life is not a physical, emotional, mental or spiritual easy street. Bad things can and do happen to seemingly good people. But in the grand scheme of eternity, even hard knocks and misfortune have a design." The truth of this statement tears into the soul and is one of man's greatest trials.

I also adamantly agree that "it is how we choose to respond to life that makes all the difference. Trials and setbacks can turn us into bitter and jaundiced people or those same hardships can grind the flaws and rough edges off our character to strengthen and polish us."

There is no defeat other than the defeat that exists within. When we begin to believe life's externals has defeated us, we become what we believe. Our own self-defeating, negative, ungodly, pessimistic thinking will defeat us for our thoughts precede actions.

Conversely, if we believe we are more than conquerors through Him who loves us, then we are. The realistic Christian is ready for momentary defeats, but we never go into permanent retreat. God and I can move mountains and He has endowed us with the capacity to overcome overwhelming odds.

Thank you for this spiritually gratifying and edifying message. May all who read it find added strength for the journey.

Forever His.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

RevLady - Thank you for your affirmation & thought provoking comments. And for expanding on my ideas:

"There is no defeat other than the defeat that exists within. When we begin to believe life's externals has defeated us, we become what we believe. Our own self-defeating, negative, ungodly, pessimistic thinking will defeat us for our thoughts precede actions."

Amen.


50 Caliber profile image

50 Caliber 6 years ago from Arizona

Ken, I went to youtube and looked up the the tune and it played well into the topic. I was on the spin and spin cycle and it gave me nothing but false happiness. One day I woke up and got off the ride. I set on contemplation and after I came up with a plan, I asked God for approval, shortly after, things and opportunities began popping up and finally it all came to fruition. I reached contentment, but not complacency, I still have to work at it and suppose I always will. Great hub and topic.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

50 Caliber a.k.a. Dusty - Thanks for your good words of testimony. You are exactly right. We reach contentment but must avoid complacency & we do so by working at it. Keep pressing on & take care.


Saintatlarge profile image

Saintatlarge 6 years ago from Canada

Ken; As difficult as it is we should welcome the trials and testing of our faith, then we know we are being refined. There were 2 disticnt instances in my life where the Lord strengthened me for what was ahead... The summer of 1994 and the fall of 1998. 1994 was so powerful that it changed my spirit man forever. In 1998 had he not visited me prior i don't think i would have made it, when the unimaginable happened. He encouraged me and strengthened me again for nearly a decade of things i would have to walk through and find out about myself. This past year has been another Hard Road not just for me but for many. Hard plowing, lots of grunting and pounding the dry earth and crying out for rain, and waiting and waiting; seeing the life we built stripped away or desolve before our eyes. Many walked away from futures they built, homes, jobs, businesses, small fortunes gone in a blink or dwindled down to nothing. Businessmen and women standing in food bank lines, some of these things never having to experience before... both believers and none. We cannot live a life and say we are untouchable just because we have an everlasting cart blanche card in our wallet signed by Jesus. Some of us might be like Job's ill advisors and judge others and say, "there must be sin in their lives", and never offer a hand in helping. There are testings on both sides of that coin.

As RevLady said, "There is no defeat other than the defeat that exists within." i thank God always for the man after God's heart that Paul was and for all he brought to us to understand and cling to in the words of the NT. How would we know how to negotiate the path God sets us on without their guiding light? God is building relationship within each of us if we will have him, and developing character that will reign with him for all eternity. "Whom the LORD sets FREE is free indeed!" Halelujah!! You got me going Ken, i will save this for a new hub perhaps...LOL. blessings L.


Devin Thomas 6 years ago

Glad to see you're a Springsteen fan, Ken. The Boss simply can't be beat.

There's a song by Nancy Griffith that plays into this idea, too: "It's a Hard Life Wherever You Go." (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E1B9lPbdHTk, not the best version, I know) It speaks to the seemingly insurmountable trials we face in life--not just within our own hearts, but systematic and institutional injustices and trials that plague us.

But I think Nancy's right to sing, "And if we poison our children with hatred / Then the hard life is all that they'll know." That's the crux of Christ's admonition to "love our enemies as we love ourselves," isn't it? When we face hard times--especially hard times that seem thrust upon us, beyond our own control--what matters is not WHY God would foist them upon us, but HOW we respond: with humility, with grace, with supplication, with admission of our own guilt and insufficiency.

Part of my job at the BIC Church is to interface with missionaries in Zimbabwe who help us coordinate the Family to Family, Village to Village exchange with food-insufficient families in Zimbabwe. I have been consistently and continually amazed at the resilience and faithfulness of my Brethren in Christ sisters and brothers in that troubled land. Despite a collapsed government infrastructure, devastating food shortages, and conditions that would make me (in my weakness and North American complacency) question the very existence of a benevolent God, these sisters and brothers remain indefatigably faithful. They challenge the situation head-on, asking good and honest and humbling (for me) questions about what it means to be obedient to God even in hard times. They are choosing not to ask WHY, but to ask HOW. They possess a remarkable (and very, very humbling) faith.

Thanks for this great essay, Ken.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Saintatlarge - Thank you for your good words of testimony. And yes, I think you've got the seeds of a Hub there. I have a good friend in Illinois whose standard theology is, "Life is hard." It may not be popular, but in all my life experiences, it is exactly true. Succinct & to the point. Blessings to you.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Devin - Thanks for the visit. I am impressed. First that you are a Springsteen fan & second that you know Nancy Griffith's music. You gotta be a good guy.

Yes, our brothers & sisters in places like Zimbabwe can teach us much. I had some deeply moving & perspective altering experiences with the church in a Nepal a few years ago. Peace & blessings to you.


Ann Nonymous profile image

Ann Nonymous 6 years ago from Virginia

Like how you are integrating music lyrics with your hub lessons, Ken! Good material!


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States

Ken, This was a very timely hub for me. I have been struggling with asthmatic bronchitis for some months now. I attended church Sunday despite the fact I didn't feel very well. I had already missed 2 weeks in a row which is very rare for me.

Occasionally after the service they will have special prayer for those that want it, and I did this time. The prayer that was prayed over me was exactly the words I have been reading in the Bible and what I felt the Lord has been telling me. It was uncanny but God is all powerful. I know this hard time will pass, as all problems have passed before and God is always faithful. I have another cat scan tomorrow but I am feeling a bit better all ready. I just have to keep my eyes on God as he is the one that never moves. I am the one that wavers but not as often anymore.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Ann Nonymous - Thank you. All the lyrics I use are from the soundtrack of my life. In many cases I have played & replayed the song over the years & thought about the lesson or idea. Anyway, blessings to you.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Pamela - I am sorry you have been struggling with that health issue. Hope this was an encouragment to you. Thank you for sharing words of testimony. May God continue to make his presence known to you. Peace.


Mystique1957 profile image

Mystique1957 6 years ago from Caracas-Venezuela

Ken, this is a true lesson about life. Interesting enough you picked it from a song, and shredded it to get a life lesson out of it! A philosopher said once:" We look for problems because we need their blessings" Pretty much what Booker T. Washington said.

Enlightening Hub!

Thumbs up!

warm regards and blessings, my friend!

Al


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Mystique1957 - Thanks for the visit & good comments. Peace & blessings to you.


Micky Dee profile image

Micky Dee 6 years ago

Great hub Ken. Life is a rough road. Thank you sir.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Thank you, Micky Dee. Life is a rough road, so watch out for those potholes. :>)


A M Werner profile image

A M Werner 6 years ago from West Allis

Ken, people don't want to believe it, but you said it - 'We are free moral agents.' There is no blaming the Lord for the good and the bad in the sense that people are free to make decisions that effect others, which effect others and so on. . . the stone in the pool. As hard as the ground we are standing on may seem, like Moses, we can tap it and make it gush forth blessings. The seeds we sow come to life if and when the Lord wants them too. Great hub, really enjoyed this one. Had my mind going all over scripture. Peace.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

AM - Thank you. Your comments are much appreciated. Great thoughts. The stone in the pool...ripples. What a great image to consider.


Tom Kathy 6 years ago

As I read this hub, REM is playing in the background: "everybody hurts sometime". coincidence, i think not

kathy


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

That's a great song, Kathy. And I think you're right. No coincidence. Blessings to you.


Stan Fletcher profile image

Stan Fletcher 6 years ago from Nashville, TN

Great hub Ken. I think that the current state of our economy is taking people to some new places of desperation that they probably haven't visited before.

I'm writing a book with the working title, "Moving Forward" and made a note to use your Booker T. Washington quote. Thanks for that.

As somewhat of a world traveler who has spent time in Indonesia, India, and other third world countries, including our neighbor, Mexico, we as Americans don't have much perspective sometimes. I don't think we even really understand the hardships of our grandparents and great-grandparents. My grandfather lost his hand in a farming accident in the 1920's, tied a tourniquet for himself, buried his hand, and made his way to the town doctor. It never slowed him down, and I was never aware of any bitterness that he could have easily felt toward the ordeal. We're soft. Not trying to downplay our pain, because it is real, but it does help me to put it in perspective in relation to places like Haiti.

Thanks again for a great hub.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Thanks, Stan. Appreciate your words. Yes, that Booker T. Washington quote is exceptional. Hope to see that book soon. Best of luck with it.


ladyjane1 profile image

ladyjane1 6 years ago from Texas

All my hard times and tribulations have made me who I am today and I try not to sit around and feel sorry for myself and there are so many people who have it so much harder such as my parents way back when. Appreciate your hub very nice.


Dave Mathews profile image

Dave Mathews 6 years ago from NORTH YORK,ONTARIO,CANADA

Hi Ken my brother, it seems like every so often through out the various times in earth and man's history we reach a point where God seems to say,

"My children are not listening to me anymore they are not paying attention to what I am trying so hard to warn them about."

Each time we arrive at one of those periods, we are faced with a harsh and costly lesson. The last ones being the stock market crash of 1929, followed by the "Second World War. When will we ever learn.

Your hub also reminds me of an old joke I heard years ago which I will share.

This man gets up in the morning and gets himself off to work. On the way riding on the bus, a fellow traveller tells him, "If you have a house, you'd better get it boarded up because we are going to be hit by a hurricane." The man thinks little of it thinking the man some sort of gloom and doom spreader for there wasn't a cloud in the sky.

As he gets off the bus, the is a teenager standing at the bus stop with his radio blairing away, and the man hears this radio announcement, that a Hurricane was coming, but still there wasn't a cloud to be seen.

After work he's on his way home and he is standing in front of this TV sales shop and on every TV was a report that there was coming a Hurricane, but still he sayw no sign of any bad weather.

The man finally gets back home has some dinner and is relaxing when suddenly the hurricane arrives. He doesnot have time to do anything when his house is demolished and he is killed.

When the man gets to heaven, after being judged, He asks God for permission to ask one question and God agrees. He asks

"Why didn't you warn me about the hurricane so that I could be safe." God answers him. "I did warn you. Why didn't you listen to that man on the bus? Why did pay attention to that radio report as you got off the bus? Why didn't you heed the warning on all 10 TVs in that store window? I'f you'd heeded my warnings you might still be alive."

Hope you don't mind a little humour Ken?

Sincerely,

Dave.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Good words, Ladyjane. Thank you.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Thanks, Dave. I think you are exactly right. The humor illustrates it well. Glad you shared it.


heart4theword profile image

heart4theword 6 years ago from hub

Booker touched on a key word: Respond! It is how we respond to things rather than react:) Nowhere land is not where we want to be! Another Great Hub-Page! I love reading your writings:)


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

heart4theword - Thank you for your kind words of encouragement. Peace & blessings to you.


bonny2010 profile image

bonny2010 6 years ago from outback queensland

My dad taught us to laugh at our hurdles it always made tem easier to climb - I liked this hub, it made me feel secure-

my grandma always told me that jesuswas watching over us so when problems appeared I always imagined he was watchingto see how I'd handle them - today I just look up,give him the thumbs up and say "stay by me on this one please" - he does cause even when Ifail I still have the incentive to try again. thanks for the read


prettydarkhorse profile image

prettydarkhorse 6 years ago from US

or humans are just born insatiable, this is thought provoking hub as usual, very enlightening hub, Thank you, Maita


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

bonny2010 - Thanks for stopping in & sharing. You Dad & Grandma gave you some very sound wisdom.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Malta - You're welcome. Thanks for the visit & for your encouraging comments.


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

I don't always react well to setbacks in life, but they have to be accepted. Otherwise we cannot overcome them.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

dahoglund - I'm not sure if anyone reacts well, but some get to the acceptance stage quicker than others. You're right, without acceptance one cannot overcome.


skye2day profile image

skye2day 6 years ago from Rocky Mountains

Hello Ken Another awesome hub. The Holy Spirit moves in you and I was touched, inspired and humored. Your words flow in twisdom and truth. I must listen to Bruce, he is a fav of mine. The quote from Booker is a mover and thinker. Thank You for another fine read. Life can be brutal, Thank God he will carry us when we feel beat. Pick us up when we fall. He took the beating for us at the cross. Glory to 'him' As Paul said, 'keep preessing forward to finish the race' Amen

Hugs Ken, Your friend, + + +


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

skye2day - Thank you for your kind, encouraging words. Blessings & peace to you. Keep pressing on & take care.


mquee profile image

mquee 6 years ago from Columbia, SC

From this hub, I gather you are a deep thinker, a dying breed in this day and age. This is really good reading and forces one to think. Very good hub.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

mquee - Thank you for your kind & generous words. Glad you stopped in & enjoyed the visit. Blessings.


jj200 profile image

jj200 6 years ago from My Bedroom

Hi Ken, finally made it back to your hubs. Thanks again for the welcome...five weeks ago. Time flies.

Anyway, I saw the Boss icon and had to click on this hub. Well written and with such passion. I like how you tied it all together with the Springsteen and Washington quotes. I really related to the idea of not feeling pity for one's own adversity and instead feeling pity for those whose character is not strengthened and fortified by such experiences. Really great stuff here. Thanks for sharing.

JJ


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

jj200 - Thanks for coming back. Yes, time does fly. Thank you for your kind words. Much appreciated.

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