“The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles.” – Psalms 34:17 NIV
“Is anyone crying for help? God is listening, ready to rescue you.” – Psalms 34:17 MSG
I have to admit there are times when I read scripture and I’m not quite feeling it. Sometimes it’s a feeling of inadequacy from not truly being able to live up to what is being asked of me, sometimes it’s just a simple misunderstanding of the material, and sometimes I understand what I am reading and know I can do it but the child in me just can’t help but put up a fight. When I read the passage above in the NIV translation, I had a reaction that could be charitably described as a mixture of all three responses. What if God doesn’t hear me? Really, all my troubles? It can’t be true, just cry out and I’m delivered? But I’m not righteous, am I. So, do my cries count?
It’s a lot to take in. And it’s at times just like these that I sometimes go to The Message (MSG) translation and see if I can’t find a version that is a bit more accessible. Once I read the MSG translation of this passage something clicked. The first thing I thought of was parenting.
I think part of this inspiration came from the fact that I recently read a book called How to Raise an Adult, by Julie Lythcott-Haims which talks a lot about parenting styles and how they can affect our children. I would recommend this as a read for parents of pre-teens and teens.
In the NIV version, I get this picture of God showing up to fix all our troubles, something like what is called a “helicopter parent”. Like in my previous post, He is there to fix our troubles when we cry out for Him. But I like the image that the MSG presents better because I think it gives a more modern blueprint for parenting with God at our side.
In the MSG God is ready to rescue us, but the implication is that he doesn’t step in to help until we have tried everything ourselves and exhausted all our abilities to the point of being desperate for help. That’s when He steps in and rescues us. The confidence and courage that we gain by trying, and trying, and trying ourselves, first, then failing and trying again, is what He is helping to build up in us. Trust me, I know all too well how hard this can be for those on both ends of the relationship, but it seems to be the path that creates the most growth in both the child and the parent.
Getting into trouble is often as important as getting out of it. Just look at the next passage in the MSG, “If your heart is broken, you’ll find God right there; if you’re kicked in the gut, he’ll help you catch your breath. Disciples so often get into trouble; still, God is there every time.” (Psalms 34:18-19). In life we have to take risks and put ourselves in situations where we will fail, or get our hearts broken, or get kicked in the gut. We have to get ourselves into a little trouble like a good disciple. But notice at this point that it doesn’t say God solves our problem; it says “God is there.” Presumably He’s there for support, love, comfort. And ultimately, when things are as bad as they can get, Saving.