Mark Talbot knows firsthand what suffering is about. He’s gone through his share of trials in his Christian life. Talbot’s book, When the Stars Disappear, is a discussion about suffering from a biblical perspective. It’s a very short book – it’s less than 100 pages of writing. And it’s not a difficult book to read, which was one of Talbot’s goals. Also worth mentioning is that this is book 1 of a series on suffering by Talbot.
The outline of this book is pretty straightforward. First, Talbot talks about the reality of suffering and gives three examples of people who suffered in Scripture (Job, Naomi, and Jeremiah). The next thing Talbot discusses is how to get through suffering as a Christian. He uses the Psalms of lament to say that we need to pray through suffering and remember God’s truths through it. After this we learn about God’s steadfast love in the lives of Job, Naomi, and Jeremiah. In his steadfast love, God brought them through suffering. The last short section of the book talks about how one day in the new creation there will be no more suffering for God’s people. These stories and the storylines of Scripture, Talbot argues, give us hope in the midst of suffering.
When the Stars Disappear is a helpful book on suffering from a Christian perspective. It’s biblical and solid – for that it deserves five stars for sure! However, this book isn’t really a unique contribution to the Christian perspective on suffering. There are scores of Christian books on suffering, many of which cover the same ground as When the Stars Disappear. As I read through this book I could guess where it was going; it was somewhat predictable. All in all this is a good book on suffering from a Christian perspective. But there are others like it. And in my view, although When the Stars Disappear is worth reading, there are other similar books that are better. For example, check out D. A. Carson, How Long O Lord; Jerry Bridges Is God Really in Control?; Timothy Keller, Walking with God through Pain And Suffering; R. C. Sproul, Surprised by Suffering; Sinclair Ferguson, Deserted by God?; John Bunyan, Seasonable Counsel, and Thomas Watson, All Things for Good.
Having said all this, we can be thankful for solid Christian books that help God’s people face suffering in a biblical and hope-filled way!
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