Several years ago, I was introduced to the writing of Dr. Mark Talbot. His sharp intellect and warm heart instantly grabbed my attention. Talbot is well-known for his writing on the subject of pain and suffering. As one who was partially paralyzed in his teens, Talbot is uniquely qualified to address the subject. He not only sympathizes with fellow suffers; he has the biblical background and experience to offer counsel that is meaningful and God-honoring.
Sometimes one sentence makes a book worth reading. Such is the case with Mark Talbot’s book When the Stars Disappear. This is no way detracts from the rest of the book. Indeed, the book is filled with biblical wisdom and encouragement for people who are experiencing a season of suffering.
When the Stars Disappear is the first installment in a series of four books, which are appropriately titled, “Suffering and the Christian Life.” The first volume attempts to show readers that suffering is not only a part of God’s plan for his people; it is a gracious gift, which is to be received in faith.
Talbot utilizes the painful stories of Naomi, Job, and Jeremiah to illustrate the central thesis of the book. He paints a realistic portrait of these characters who struggle with suffering and struggle with a God who allows and ordains it.
The great strength of this book is a biblical perspective that leads readers to a gracious God who is eager for people to draw near in faith and communion. That leads us to the sentence that captured my attention:
“Biblical faith and hope are grounded in God’s self-revelation that – no matter how dark and hopeless life may now seem – his saints will ultimately know him as ’the God of chesed,’ for that is indeed his name.”
The author helps us understand how God is accomplishing good in the lives of his people, even in the midst of pain and suffering. “Believing that this is what God has in store for us,” Talbot writes, “is essential to Christian faith.” He continues, “God’s apparent delay in fulfilling his promises refines our hopes. We lift our heads and see God’s eschatological rewards from afar as our earthly hopes die. Our suffering inclines us to reorient our hopes toward the consummation.”
In the end, our gaze is set upon a Savior who promises to make all things new. Dr. Talbot’s warm-hearted biblical perspective is a welcome gift that is sure to be received with open arms by many. I look forward with great anticipation to the remaining volumes in this soul-stirring series.