Whose Purpose is Being Served? - The Warrior's Journey®

Whose Purpose is Being Served?

Author: Chaplain, COL Scott McChrystal, USA (Ret.)

. Photo by is licensed under CC By 2.0

“Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel.” (Philippians 1:12) 

Why does God allow us to get stuck with difficult assignments, send us on long deployments, and place us in the darkest of circumstances? Is it to advance our career, broaden our experience, or prepare us for future assignments? I suspect those things are included in God’s plan, but they do not constitute God’s primary reason. God’s chief concern is the advance of the Gospel and His own work of sanctification in each of us. 

The circumstances (i.e. “what has happened to me”) to which Paul refers is his imprisonment. His letters to the Philippians, Ephesians, Colossians, and to Philemon, are the “prison epistles.” He wrote them during the period his four-year-long imprisonment – two years in Caesarea (Acts 24:27) and two years in Rome (Acts 28:30). This must have been a particularly trying time for Paul, who traveled all the time and was now cooped up in prison. Yet, Paul saw a profoundly positive effect from his imprisonment. Rather than the Gospel being “fettered,” it was advancing. Paul’s incarceration brought him into direct contact with governors, kings, and the Emperor himself. Plus, Paul was winning over members of the Praetorian Guard, as well as others among Caesar’s household. Far from being unfruitful during this period, Paul’s imprisonment gave him access to people that none of the apostles could possibly reach. 

You know, all of us experience our own form of imprisonment. Perhaps we’re confined by to a basecamp in a combat zone. Maybe we’re saddled beneath heavy responsibilities. Maybe we’re restricted to our home, caring for small children or an invalid parent. Whatever our circumstances may be, we’re in them by divine appointment. Only we can bring the light of God’s love and of the Gospel to our “fellow prisoners.”  This is why God sends us on long deployments. As believers in Jesus we are the light of the world (Matthew 5:14-16). That’s why God tends to place us in the darkest of locations and circumstances. It’s where the light is needed most.  

Yes, our comfort matters to God. But when compared to saving lost souls from eternity in hell, our comfort must take a back seat. And as we submit to God and faithfully fulfill our divine mission in the darkest of circumstances, God is achieving His other main concern – our sanctification. Through our adversity and perseverance, God is shaping us more and more into the image of His Son, Jesus Christ. 


  • What circumstances are imprisoning you? What do you think God’s purpose for you is in that situation? How can you bring light to that darkness? 
  • Do you really think you’d be happier in some other place? Isn’t the very center of God’s will the safest and happiest place to be? 
  • God works all things together for good (Romans 8:28). But is this for an earthly or a heavenly good? Is it for a temporary or an eternal good (2 Corinthians 4:18)? 

Let's Talk

100% Confidential | Warrior-to-warrior

We respond within 24 hours and can provide community support, resources, and referrals.