What’s My Purpose? How Setbacks Are Setups

Doug Bender

July 06, 2023 | 3 minute read

What’s my purpose?

Everyone wants to live a life full of purpose. But discovering what that purpose is and how to fulfill it is more complex than it seems. 

You can make plans, but challenges always seem to emerge along the way. Maybe you don’t get into the program you applied for; maybe you run into financial problems; or a relationship ends in a way you didn’t expect. Whatever form these setbacks take, it’s tempting to view them as detours from your intended path. But in time and with the right perspective, these setbacks can actually set you up for an even more meaningful and fulfilling life. 

This theme is prevalent in some of our most recent films. So whether you’re feeling like a failure or climbing up the mountain of success, take some advice from our Seconds, who found the secret to living a more purpose-driven life.  

Chad Robichaux’s Story

An elite warrior. Special Forces Veteran. MMA Fighter. Chad felt he could beat anything. But then PTSD pushed him to the brink. His family fell apart. He had to leave the military. And in 2010, he attempted to take his own life. He felt that everything he had worked for was gone. (Watch his White Chair Film to hear his full story.)

Trying to cope with his struggles and mental health issues, Chad found ultimate healing in Jesus alone. Through that experience, he realized what really mattered in life. He rearranged his priorities and put Jesus first. He fought to win back his family. And eventually, he found healing. 

He now runs a non-profit called Mighty Oaks Foundation, which helps other warriors find healing and peace, just like he did. Moreover, his faith enabled him to rescue people escaping war in Afghanistan and Ukraine. (Watch his heroic Second Edition Film for more).

But again, none of this could have happened had he not gone through his mental health struggles. Rather than setting him back, they set him up for future success. He came through each trial stronger. He could better understand what God intended for his life and the purpose for which he was created. 

In the grand narrative of your life, setbacks and challenges are not roadblocks to achieving your purpose. They are the essential components of your journey. They reveal a purpose that you cannot otherwise see. They give you opportunities you cannot otherwise take advantage of. And they can give you the strength to go further than you otherwise could ever hope to go. 

Tyler and Bethany Toneys’ Story 

When Tyler and his friends released their first trick-shot video, they never imagined how it would alter the trajectory of their lives forever. They became known as Dude Perfect, and their rapid fame led to new careers. Tyler felt a sense of fulfillment and purpose in producing these videos, but his family life was crumbling behind the scenes. Bethany, Tyler’s wife, felt increasingly lonely as work and travel kept him away. Eventually, she began to feel like she was raising their three young kids alone. 

Tyler could have become mad. He could have decided that Bethany was holding him back from being the next YouTube megastar. But instead, he began to reevaluate his life and his purpose. Tyler discovered that he never really had a relationship with God. He realized he hadn’t given his family what they needed. And they both found ways to rebuild their marriage. Their struggles helped them recognize a new shared purpose in life. Watch their full story in the three-part mini series: Not as Easy as it Looks.

Don Wickstrum’s Story

Don Wickstrum owned a successful robotics company. But then doctors diagnosed him with a severe form of cancer – causing his world to come to a screeching halt. They informed him that he would need to dedicate everything he had to fight for his health. So he sold his business and focused on getting healthy. 

But through the process, he also saw God present a new opportunity for him. When he was young, he dreamed of racing in the famous Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. It’s a treacherous and challenging race that only some ever compete in. But as he fought through cancer, he also learned a new dependence and hope in God. His struggle gave him the fortitude to attempt something he would never have otherwise. 

His newfound career in racing has given him a new platform to influence the world to spread the hope of God. But to get to that point, he had to struggle. He had to fight and go through pain. Looking back, he now knows that cancer didn’t derail his life’s purpose. It opened new roads to an even greater calling in his life. 

Friend, the struggles are real. 

But so is the hope on the other side.

Doug Bender

Doug Bender

Doug Bender is an I Am Second writer and small groups coach. He developed many of the small group tools found at and has coached churches, organizations, and individuals to use I Am Second groups to share the message of Jesus with their friends and family. He also works with I Am Second's parent organization, e3 Partners, as a church planter and pastor in countries such as Ethiopia, Colombia, and the US. Doug and his wife, Catherine, have four children: Bethany, Samuel, Isabella, and Jesse.

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