By Anthony Casperson

More than one author has spoken of their job as putting their protagonist through all sorts of troubles and difficulties. Placing them in impossible situations. And making the audience witness the character’s suffering.

These authors want to break their main character.

It’s not that they’re masochistic psychos. Rather, the point of the exercise is to bring the hero to a point of growth. A place that the character could never get to without having experienced all of those trials. And quite often, it’s to lead the protagonist—and the audience—to the particular virtue that the author has written the whole story around. Their main theme.

The troublesome circumstances are meant to break down the personal character flaws so that we can achieve a higher virtue. Broken for a greater purpose that is beyond ourselves.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this concept recently. Specifically, when it comes to spiritual growth as a follower of Jesus. But one aspect of this idea struck me this week. And it falls to a single word in the bible.


Or more honestly, the Greek word that is translated as meekness in passages such as Gal 5:19, where Paul lists out the fruit of the Spirit.

As I’ve said on more than one occasion, outside of biblical sources, this Greek word was used in cases where a wild horse was tamed. Broken. It’s when the self-willed beast learned to use its incredible power for the will of another. When the horse ceased to fight the rider with every fiber of their being, and instead allowed their will to match the riders.

For mutual benefit.

This concept fits perfectly with the growth of a follower of Jesus. Our sinful desires are always selfish. Always self-directed. We want to feel good. Be in control. Have more than enough. And far too often, don’t really think about the consequences of our actions beyond the few people who mean the most to us.

We are self-willed powerhouses that seek to roam wherever—and only where—we want to.

But when we come to follow Jesus, That selfishness has to go away. Sin has no place before the holy God. Our will must align with our Savior’s. For his glory, our growth, and the growth of those around us.

See, the life of a follower of Jesus is about tearing down those selfish actions and desires so that they can be replaced with the selfless love, joy, peace (and so much more) that belongs to God. We must control the self—use our power, which hasn’t diminished despite the experience—for the benefit of God and those around us.

Broken for a greater purpose that is beyond ourselves.

In the middle of the breaking, it sucks. I’ve been there too many times to deny that fact. (And that’s just in the past month.) We want to fight with every ounce of strength that we have. Pulling, tearing, ripping. Even if it means that we damage ourselves, that self-will seeks nothing but to be freed. Left alone with only our destructive desires.

But there’s a greater purpose behind all of the suffering. A reason why the Author of our life allows the problems and difficulties to enter our path. That self-will is a character flaw that must be overcome. A detriment to the mutual benefit that our God seeks. And as we allow his will to direct us, we reach out to godliness. Virtue unconstrained. Our power used for the plan of God that will thwart all of the evil in this world.

And that’s far greater than anything our measly little wills could ever hope to attain in our supposed freedom. A grander path than anything our earthbound footfalls could tread.

So, as we face trials and tribulations, let’s not wallow in the mire. Don’t plop into the depressive suckiness of it all. Or worse yet, use our own strength against ourselves as we rip and pull and tear away because of our refusal to be broken.

Instead, let’s meekly search out the will of our Lord and Savior. Heed the loving prods that direct our way toward his will. And remember that though the breaking will never feel good in the moment. There’s a greater purpose for it all.