The Strange Fascination of Hardship (as suggested by F.W. Boreham)

When one thinks of past pastors of Hobart Baptist Church none loom larger than F.W. Boreham. According to Laurie Rowston, our resident historian, Boreham had “one of the most powerful and influential ministries in the Hobart Tabernacle’s history.”

He was pastor here at Hobart Baptist from 1906-16 and you will find his picture on the wall in the Soundy Lounge next to the main tabernacle, along with all the past pastors of this church. The photo shown here is of Frank Boreham with his wife Stella.

During his life Boreham authored some 47 books and more than 3000 editorials appearing in the Hobart Mercury every week for 47 years between 1912 and 1959. Some even suggest he is Australian’s bestselling Christian author of all time. During his time in Hobart church membership rose to 320 and many more were attracted by his captivating preaching. He later remarked that ten of the happiest and most satisfying years of his life were spent here.

It was here in Hobart that he decided to publish a book of his essays. In one of his essays published in The Luggage of Life in 1912, Boreham suggested we make a “blunder when we try to persuade people that the way to heaven is easy.” It is not only untrue it is also uninviting, he suggested saying:

“Hardship has a strange fascination for people [they] love to be challenged, taunted and dared.”

Boreham went on to illustrate this with a number of examples including Scott’s expedition to the South Pole when 6,000 men volunteered to join him. He then went on to say that Jesus challenges the daring in us all and throughout the ages people have responded to his call: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.” (Matt 16:24-25)

Boreham had his share of sorrow during his life, including nearly dying from a railway accident in his teens, but he wrote they were never wasted for “aye the dews of sorrows were lustered by His love.” His whole life was spent following Jesus and endeavouring to help people find the way to heaven not matter how difficult it might be.

I wonder what F.W. Boreham would think of the people of Hobart Baptist Church and other Christians in the world today? It’s obviously hard to say, but I’m sure he would want to encourage us to rise to the challenges we face. He would want us to give all we can to help the church be all that God has called us to be. He would want us never to be daunted by the task and fall into despair, but to “challenged, taunted and dared” by it.

May God inspire and encourage you to be all he has called you to be today.

Stephen L Baxter

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