The righteous cry, and Yahweh hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles.
Psalm 34:17 (WEB)
If you are like me, when you read this verse you ask yourself “Am I righteous?” Or rather, “Am I righteous enough?” You may even start to question whether God hears your prayers, thinking you don’t qualify for the help He promises in this verse.
Righteousness however, is not about our performance nor is it something we earn.
Righteousness simply means to be in “right standing with God.” That is, to be in a good place with Him or to have a good relationship with Him. This is not something we can earn, but something we are gifted through the work of Jesus at the cross.
2 Corinthians 5:21 says:
For him who knew no sin he made to be sin on our behalf; so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
2 Corinthians 5:21 (WEB)
We are righteous not because of anything we have or haven’t done, but because we’ve put our faith in Jesus. He exchanged His own righteousness for our sin, and now we can approach God in freedom through His blood.
So, in short, you do qualify!
If you are a follower of Christ and in relationship with Him, then you are righteous and can be assured that God does indeed hear you when you cry out. This isn’t the only verse to make such a claim, and so you can be sure that your prayers are heard.
This verse also says God delivers us from our troubles. This is a great promise, and I have no wish to limit it. I think we do need to carefully interpret it however.
If you turn on Christian TV, you might find a preacher claiming that Christians should never have another problem or that God will wave His hand over your life and all your troubles will disappear. The really unscrupulous ones may even suggest you exchange your money for such a result.
To put it plainly, that’s not biblical!
So am I saying this verse is a lie then? Not at all!
God does indeed deliver us from trouble. But that does not necessarily mean He takes it all away. Often, God will give us the strength we need to endure through a problem. We may pray that God will take it away, but He would rather we pray for the strength to endure it with a good attitude.
I am not aware of any New Testament prayer that asks God to remove all obstacles out of our way. Rather, saints like Paul prayed for inner strength, power, knowledge, peace, and more, and all to the glory of God.
Don’t misunderstand though, I am not saying God is limited or unwilling, and cannot help. The Creator of the universe is still in control, and very much looks out for the good of His children. We forget sometimes though that god’s primary concern is not our comfort, but His glory.
Whatever you are facing right now, you can trust that God not only hears your prayers, but is ready and willing to deliver you. If you’re stuck in the valley, you might want a helicopter ride out, but be prepared to push on one step at a time. God is with you!