Growth Never Takes Place in the Comfort Zone


At age 21 I had a sporting accident. I tore a bleeding cartilage and shredded all the ligaments behind my left knee, so bad they could not be surgically repaired. I had surgery to remove the bleeding cartilage followed by five weeks in a soft cast. Then I went through eight weeks of rigorous workouts at a physical therapy clinic.

My therapist was nice enough. She wasn’t very big, but she sure knew how to bend, torque, and maneuver that leg to the point of deep pain. I won’t say that she took pleasure in delivering me to my threshold of pain, but I do remember smiles on her face while putting me through those rigors. I took the rehab seriously and faithfully worked to strengthen that leg.

My range of motion with that leg on my first visit was 12 degrees. The day I left, 120 degrees. I had set a goal of the amount of weight I would work out with and reached it. The first day the workout was free of any weight.

My Physical Therapist taught me a series of exercises to strengthen my left leg that would take about 40-45 minutes each day. The first time was without weights. Then we strapped a one pound weight around my ankle. Then two, then three…On my last day I accomplished a feat that no man, even twice my size, had ever done. I completed that same workout with forty pounds of weight strapped to my ankle. Little skinny me, maybe 129 pounds, had successfully completed all of the required exercises with forty pounds of weight around my ankle.

When I walked out of that center for the final time my left leg was much stronger than the right leg, which had never been damaged.

I went through a lot of painful days, painful workouts during that time. I did it because I had a goal in mind. I was going to be as strong as before the accident. I came out stronger.

We all face trials, struggles, and hardships in life. There will be physical ones like I faced. There will be financial hardships and struggles, mental ones too, and even spiritual trials and struggles. When we go through life’s struggles, trials, and hardships, if we allow, God will lead us through them, so that we come out stronger believers and stronger proponents for His Kingdom and His power.

In the Bible, chapter 1 of the book of James tells us Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.

If I had laid around crying about my poor knee, and how it couldn’t be surgically repaired; If I had not worked out daily as instructed by my therapist, my knee would have atrophied worse than the 5 weeks in the soft-cast. It would have been a useless knee, not able to carry my weight.

I had to stretch it, work it, bend it, lift weights with it and let the Physical Therapist bend it until I was in deep pain. My leg had to be stretched beyond what was comfortable. My rehabilitation of that leg was not a one-time venture. It was day by day, every day, a 40-45 minute workout each day. So it is in life, if you want to grow you’ve got to be stretched – sometimes until it hurts. It is a day by day process of development. Growth never takes place in your comfort zone. God stretches us to strengthen us. The more we’re stretched, the more intense our workout, the stronger we become.

When a man accepts this testing in the right way, and day by day he develops this steadfast devotion moving through each day, then day by day he will live more triumphantly and move nearer to the standard of Jesus Christ Himself.

George Yates is the Church Health Strategist for the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions, assisting churches and individuals in pursuing God’s purpose for life. Learn more at

This post is an excerpt from a forthcoming book on Lessons from God.

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