A story map is a tool that teachers use to help students understand the overall direction of a story. The map provides a context for interpreting the significance of the various events involved at different points in the narrative. Knowing where the story is coming from and where it is going keeps a reader from getting lost in the middle.
In a way, Psalm 44 and Romans 8 provide us with a story map to understand where we are in the biblical story about shame. Psalm 44 starts by looking back and recalling what God has done in the past. It can be read from different perspectives: that of the Jews in exile, that of Jesus on the cross, and that of people trying to make sense of the degrading experiences God has allowed into their lives.
This psalm grapples with how God could show such love and favor to His people in the past and then suddenly seem to treat them as if they have no value to Him. They had entrusted their honor to God, but He hadn’t protected it from the vicious assaults of their enemies. Who were they to Him—simply sheep that He had fattened for the slaughter?
Romans 8 picks up the same question and examines it in light of God’s promised future glory. How do setbacks like frustrated hopes and fruitless labor fit with the bigger picture of what God has planned for us? How can we interpret our degrading experiences of accusation (v. 33), condemnation (v. 34), hard times, persecution, poverty, and abuse (v. 35)?
Both passages conclude by anchoring trust in the bedrock of God’s unfailing love. His love has protected us from shame in the past, and will deliver us from shame in the future.