I have to agree, the Cosmic's 7 of penatcles is so contrary to my understanding of this card. why is it so bleak? it is as if the outcome is pre-ordained to failure and completely negates the possibilities of growth and reaping rewards of your efforts.
Hum...imagine that you are in a bad situation. You won't think your present problems aren't bad because the future will bring you good things. Specially because you ain't sure the future WILL bring you good things.
The man in the card is feeling the same. Seven for me is always about an obstacle, and to overcome it you'll have to realize something. To have an 'A-HA!' moment. An insight.
The man in the card...he seems sad. He probably realized that, in spite of lesson he learnt in the 5/Pentacles and the good things he did in a 6/pentacles, he doesn't have control over everything. The earth seems barren...it SEEMS barren. The man wanted to see his dreams growing, but nothing shows up. And then he suddenly realizes you don't have control over everything. Sometimes all you can do is wait...and have faith. You've done what you could, now it belongs to the divine, the great mystery.
He's not aware of the 9/Pentacles that'll come soon. He's only aware of his now. His now is bleak, but the card tells him to be hopeful. To keep going. To not give up.
It doesn't "negate the possibilities of growth". Do you have a garden? Sometimes, when you move a plant from one spot to another it takes some time to adjust. It almost looks like it's definitely going to die. But then, when you least expect, it gets it's life back, it grows more beautiful and strong than ever!
Under that barren land there's life. You cannot see it, but it's there. IMHO, this card isn't about growth - it's about patience.
Hope this is helpful