An excerpt from In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day – Mark Batterson


When I was a sophomore in high school, I broke my ankle playing basketball. Actually, I was just running down the court in one of our drills, and I tripped over a line on the floor. My ego hurt worse than my ankle! I spent the next month in a cast, and I remember questioning God. After all, He could have kept it from happening. But that broken ankle turned out to be a blessing in a disguise.

When I broke my left ankle, I had a cast for four weeks, so I spent those four weeks hopping around on my right leg. Our high school had three floors, and it seemed like all my classes alternated between floors that semester. So I was hopping up and down flights of stairs after every period. I was like a human pogo stick for a month.

Now, here’s the thing – I had tried for years to dunk a basketball. It was my holy grail. And ironically, it took a broken ankle for me to first achieve that goal. What seemed like a setback turned into a stepping – stone. I dunked my first basketball while wearing a cast on my left ankle. Here’s what happened. My body simply compensated for its brokenness. When you’re injured in one place, you’ve got to draw more strength from someplace else. My right leg grew stronger to compensate fro my broken left ankle. It was the brokenness that actually increased my capacity.

In the world of strength training, it is called the principle of supercompensation. When an athlete is pushed beyond the threshold of pain and exhaustion, the body overcompensates. The more a muscle is broken down, the more it builds back up. The same is true of our bones. The two hundred and six bones in the body are constantly going through a process called remodeling. They are being broken down by osteoclasts and built back up by osteoblasts. The process of remodeling is intensified when a bone is broken. Extra osteoblasts help rebuild the bone. There is a period of weakness where the bone is more vulnerable to re-injury. That is why we wear casts. But eventually the bone ended up stronger than it was to begin with because the body overcompensates. Very rarely does a bone break in the same place twice because the bone is thicker and stronger than it was before the break.

Almost like a broken bone that needs to be reset, God breaks us where we need to be broken. He fractures the pride and lust and anger in our lives, but He does it to remodel us into His image. And once we heal, we end up stronger than we were to begin with.

It has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for Him.

The word granted comes from the Greek root charizomai, which literally means “to grant favor”. This sounds ludicrous at first earshot, but it is almost as if God is saying “Listen, I owe you a favor. Let me let you suffer.” We tend to see suffering as a necessary evil at best, but Paul calls it a divine favor. And it’s not like Paul was talking theory:

Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three ties I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked. I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles, in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea and in danger from false brothers.

No one had more problems than Paul. No one experienced more adversity. But God used adversity to increase his capacity (for ministry). The more problems you have the more potential you have.

Where have you been broken? What adverse circumstance are you facing? Do you have overwhelming problems? Maybe God is remodeling you. Maybe God is increasing your capacity via adversity. Maybe the problem you thought you never could overcome will turn into the biggest opportunity of your life. Will you allow God to remodel you – to mold you into what He wants you to be – bigger, better and stronger than you every thought you could be – for His purposes and plans for your life?

Come and let us return to the Lord, for He has torn us that He may heal us – He has stricken, but He will bind us up… that we may live in His sight…. Let us pursue the knowledge of the Lord – let us press on to know the Lord. Hosea 6:1-3

  1. Brian,

    You gave these words to me awhile ago through Deb, and never have they been so true. If we could only grasp the intent of the Father when we suffer trials, we would do more than endure the trial. We would actually do as Paul said and “Count it as joy”. I am going to meditate on these words for awhile and see what “Joy” the LORD produces. Thanks

    • Hey Shelly – yes, this is quite a powerful story! It is amazing that God designed His universe (including us) in this manner – that our suffering, pain and hurt are actually “designed” to make us stronger. But, most of us actually try to run away from it and not embrace it for all God has intended – it reminds me of the stories of Joseph, David, Paul… God always has a plan… the hard part is trusting it! We Love you sis! Congrats on your new job and we look forward seeing what God is doing in “repairing” you and making you stronger!

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