Articles | Discipleship
Rick Lawrence

Rick (rlawrence@group.com and @RickSkip on Twitter) has been editor of GROUP Magazine for over 25 years. He’s the author of the recently released revised edition of the popular title, "Jesus-Centered Youth Ministry," "99 Thoughts on Jesus-Centered Living," the LIVE small-group curriculum Jesus-Centered Living, and wrote the books "Sifted: God’s Scandalous Response to Satan’s Outrageous Demand" (www.siftedbook.com) and "Shrewd: Daring to Live the Startling Command of Jesus" (www.shrewdbook.com) as an excuse to immerse himself in the presence of Jesus.

The only question that really matters in life is this…

Is God good?

A week ago, on my way home from work, the clutch in my 1995 Volvo failed in the middle of rush-hour traffic on a busy highway. Then my phone died while I was on hold for AAA. My broken-down car was blocking the left lane, creating a swell of angry drivers who glared at me as they maneuvered past.

Is God good?

A policeman showed up and offered to shove me out of traffic—he pushed me to the top of a hill so I could coast down the other side to a wide shoulder off the highway. Then I borrowed his phone, called my wife, and waited two hours for the tow truck to show up.

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Is God good?

When the driver finally arrived, he told me his truck was on empty and he’d need to get some gas right away. He needed diesel—late at night in an unfamiliar part of town. Three failed attempts later, he found an open station that had diesel and we finally got back on the highway. An hour later, I dragged my tired carcass through the door of my darkened home.

Is God good?

The next day, the mechanic at the place I’d towed the car to called to tell me he’d found the problem—the fix was expensive, but not too expensive.

Is God good?

Meanwhile, that very morning, it looked like my wife’s crazy-impossible idea for taking our daughter Lucy on a surprise 16th-birthday trip to New York City might actually happen. A friend of a friend had offered us her Upper West Side walk-up as a free place to stay, and that morning the cost of the flights had suddenly dropped dramatically. We knew they could go up again at any time—“We have to do this now if we’re going to do this,” I told my wife. So I clicked on “Book” and exhaled…

Is God good?

Two hours after I bit my lip and bought those tickets, the mechanic called. Once he had the car up on the rack, he found bigger problems. The cost of the fix had gone way, way up—probably twice what the car was actually worth. I knew in that moment, the old grey horse was dead… And now, after pulling the trigger on a financially extravagant trip that we didn’t “need,” we faced the financial necessity of finding and paying for a replacement car.

Is God good?

Or, more specifically, is He the God who managed to pull all the right strings and make it possible for us to surprise our daughter with a celebratory trip she’d never forget, or is He the God who sat on His hands while our car breathed its last?

Is He good and trustworthy, or is He capricious and untrustworthy?

Everything in life—everything—rests on whether God is good or not. We will never be able to figure Him out, in the moment, by studying the shifting fortunes of our circumstances. And if we’re asking, as I often do, “Is God good?” after each nasty/joyful twist in our road, we’ll find ourselves with a shipwrecked faith. No, the time to decide whether or not God is good is not in the thick of our circumstances. Jesus came to pay the price for our sin and open up a path to rescue, sure… But He also came to show us exactly who God is. If you understand the heart of Jesus, you understand the heart of God. And the heart of Jesus is good—more good than our churched, Sunday school, Bible-study-group descriptions have typically led us to believe. He’s good at a level so deep that He shatters every other definition of good. As Peter Kreeft says, Jesus’ beauty is “shocking.” He’s not only “the Way, the Truth, and the Life,” He is also the “Good.”

And when we’re in the middle of a breakdown, what we want is our circumstances to change from darkness to light; but what we most need is to remember that Jesus is the Light—He is good, and He is with us, and He will not forsake us…


Rick (rlawrence@group.com and @RickSkip on Twitter) has been editor of GROUP Magazine for 26 years. He’s author of the just-released book Jesus-Centered Youth Ministry (simplyyouthministry.com). He wrote the books Sifted (www.siftedbook.com) and Shrewd (www.shrewdbook.com) and the upcoming Skin In the Game (2015) as an excuse to immerse himself in the presence of Jesus.

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