I read Psalm 44 from my Bible Chair this morning.
When I moved into my 3rd floor apartment last July, I knew that I needed a chair. And not just any chair. I needed the chair, the one that I would sit in for all of my greatest thinking and reading in the year to come. So, naturally, I hit up my local Goodwill Outlet. (In case you didn’t know, Goodwill actually has an outlet where all of the Goodwill rejects go. No joke. It is easily my favorite store. You wheel garbage bins around and buy everything for $1.39 a pound. It’s fabulous.)
During one of my routine visits last summer, I found it. Sitting right there. My Bible Chair. I just knew it. It emanated a sharp odor of cat pee, had upholstery from the 90’s, and was covered in animal hair. It was perfect.
20 dollars later, I was lugging my newfound treasure up three flights of stairs and setting it down in the middle of my empty living room, next to an office chair, which was my only other item of furniture. After a quick visit to Walmart, with odor and stain remover in hand, I spent the better part of the afternoon washing and cutting and vacuuming the thing to death. It was honestly the most fun I had had in a while.
(In case you were wondering, I have also bought two end tables from the Goodwill Outlet for 2 dollars a piece. I’m telling you, it’s a magical place.)
Now, as you know, it’s March. I have spent all year working in elementary school fundraising, which mainly means my life is one big hectic dance party, which some days I love and some days I’d rather stay in bed. As I have precariously balanced my introverted/extroverted self from day to day, coddling myself when I can’t stand to see another person or have another conversation, my chair has become a haven.
My Bible Chair is, of course, the chair in which I read my Bible. Although, honestly, it’s the chair where I eat my dinner, watch my K-dramas, work on my spanish on Duolingo, and call my mom. Or, in other words, it’s the chair in which I recharge. It may be the introvert in me, but sitting there, in my robe, with a cup of coffee on my $2 end table and Bible in my lap, I feel like I can take on the world.
But, as I read and journal and take moments to unwind, sometimes my chair is also the place where I feel the deepest emotions. It’s where I get rid of distractions and I ask myself what’s really going on. And, consequently, it can be the place where I feel the most abandoned by God because I allow myself to ask Him the most important questions and pray the most important prayers. And as I reflect on where He has brought me in these past few years, sometimes I just want to look at Him and be like “Where the heck did you go??”
I thought of this as I read Psalm 44 this morning, because that’s exactly what the psalmist is asking, too. (Maybe he also had a Bible Chair.)
O God, we have heard with our ears,
our fathers have told us,
what deeds you performed in their days,
in the days of old…
He was always told of how God delivered His people and how He went with them.
In God we have boasted continually,
and we will give thanks to your name forever.
He has stood by the name of God. He has even boasted to those in his life about how God is for him and has stood by him.
But you have rejected us and disgraced us
and have not gone out with our armies…
You have made us like sheep for slaughter
and have scattered us among the nations.
Whoa. What a bold statement. God, of course, has not actually sent His people off to be sheep in a slaughter, but the writer obviously feels like He has. And I get that.
Our heart has not turned back,
nor have our steps departed from your way;
you you have broken us in the place of jackals
and covered us with the shadow of death.
As I read this psalm this morning, I cannot help but understand. I get where the psalmist is coming from. Have you ever felt like God has just completely abandoned you? Or that He sent you somewhere only to watch you be devoured?
I definitely felt that way during my first year in South Carolina. When I was 16, I would sing along with everyone else:
“Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders,
let me walk upon the waters wherever you have called me.”
And when I graduated college, it became my moment to go out in faith and trust God with my future. And when I did, life began to grab hold of me like I was the punching bag. (Or, at least, it felt that way.) I was wrecked. I couldn’t stop crying. I was doing a fellowship program through a church, but I had never felt further away from God. I was depressed. I had to get back on my anti-depressant. I was sobbing in coffee shops. And I felt just like the psalmist felt:
But you have rejected us and disgraced us
and have not gone out with our armies.
The psalmist ends with a statement:
Awake! Why are you sleeping, O Lord?
Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever!
It reminds me so much of the story of Jesus calming the sea. There was a tremendous storm and Jesus and His best buds were on a boat. Naturally, the disciples were freaking out, but Jesus was sleeping. He was just taking a nap while the boat was about to capsize. And I love that.
I love that, as I scream at the sky and demand God to do something, He is undeterred. God has not been absent in my trials in life. He has been right beside me. He has simply known that He was going to bring me through them. In fact, I believe that He knew He shouldn’t save me from them because they are all in my life for a reason.
And now I have a million stories and a million lessons that I have been given through my hardest trials. As I sit in my Bible Chair, I cannot help but feel them all circle me in an embrace full of depth and wisdom and adventure, and for that I am thankful.