Give Me Understanding That I May Live: Situating Our Suffering within God's Redemptive Plan

Suffering and the Christian Life, Volume 2

By Mark Talbot

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Give Me Understanding That I May Live: Situating Our Suffering within God's Redemptive Plan

Suffering and the Christian Life, Volume 2

By Mark Talbot

... Show All

Situating Christian Suffering within the Bible’s Redemptive Storyline

Since creation’s fall, suffering has been part of earthly life. At times, it can feel overwhelming, even for believers who trust in the Lord. The Suffering and the Christian Life series provides help and hope from Scripture for those who are suffering.

In volume 2 of this series, Mark Talbot explores Scripture’s account of the origin, spread, and eventual end of suffering, giving Christians the perspective they need to get through life’s difficult times. He encourages readers to see themselves within the Bible’s storyline (creation, rebellion, redemption, and consummation), finding the courage to endure and taking comfort that God is at work for their good.

  • A Careful Biblical Examination of Why We Suffer: Explains why we suffer in terms of the full biblical story 
  • A Concise Overview of Redemptive History: Looks at the 4 stages of the Christian story (creation, rebellion, redemption, and consummation) to offer real hope to suffering saints 
  • Biblical Encouragement for Difficult Times: A helpful resource for believers—from teenagers to the elderly—who are dealing with grief, illness, persecution, or pain 
  • An Expansive Look at Suffering throughout Scripture: Includes numerous footnotes and additional advice for readers who want to explore this topic in greater depth 

Read Chapter 1


Mark Talbot

Mark Talbot (PhD, University of Pennsylvania) is an associate professor of philosophy at Wheaton College and the host of the When the Stars Disappear podcast. He is also the author of the Suffering and the Christian Life series, including When the Stars Disappear and Give Me Understanding That I May Live. He and his wife, Cindy, have one daughter and three grandchildren.

Product Details

Category: Counseling
Christian Living
Format: Paperback
Page Count: 240
Size: 5.5 in x 8.5 in
Weight: 9.96 ounces
ISBN-10: 1-4335-6746-6
ISBN-13: 978-1-4335-6746-9
ISBN-UPC: 9781433567469
Case Quantity: 60
Published: July 12, 2022

Table of Contents

Prologue: Picking Up the Thread

Chapter 1: Creation: When Everything Was “Very Good”
Chapter 2: Rebellion: The Cause of All Our Suffering
Chapter 3: Suffering: What It Is and How It Affects Us
Chapter 4: Redemption and Consummation: What Suffering Should Prompt Us to Seek

Epilogue: Give Me Understanding That I May Live

More Advice for My Readers
Appendix: “Why God?” by Herbert McCabe
General Index
Scripture Index


“This may just be the finest treatment of biblical-theological perspectives on the nature, significance, and purpose of suffering that I have ever read. The exegetical roots of Talbot’s work run deep, his theological reflections are profound, his grasp of wide-ranging secondary literature is extraordinary, and his pastoral passion is transparent. We pray that this book will challenge, comfort, and inspire many whose experiences have landed them in the swamp of confusion and despair, and that it will be a helpful resource for those whom God calls to walk—or swim—with those in this state.”
Daniel I. Block, Gunther H. Knoedler Professor Emeritus of Old Testament, Wheaton College

“Suffering is the greatest mystery of life, and God’s people have struggled with it since the days of Job. There is much about it that we shall never be able to understand, but Christians can know that whatever happens to us, we are children of God, and he will not allow us to fall away from his loving care. That is where we must begin, and the Scriptures offer us a rich resource for establishing our faith on a firm foundation. Mark Talbot takes us to where we need to be.”
Gerald BrayResearch Professor, Beeson Divinity School

“Mark Talbot operates like a calm, rational medic checking his patients. His careful, clear accounts of the Bible’s teaching of suffering, his case that human suffering arises from the race’s fallenness—its rebellion—looks forward to the redemption and consummation that await those who repent and put their faith in Christ. Mark shows himself sensitive to the Bible’s details, its modes and idioms, and to how we humans bear our suffering, cataloging the perplexity, frustration, and futility of human life, the litany of human sin and woe, that comes from our sin. The book forms an armory for the Christian and for his family and friends, outfitting us to endure our suffering through childbearing and motherhood, through the duty and drudgery of daily work, through lives cut short and old age, and through wealth and its loss. The careful reader will want more and more of Mark’s unique books.”
Paul Helm, former Professor of the History and Philosophy of Religion, King’s College London

“None of us make it through this life without seeking to make sense of its inherent suffering. To help us in this pursuit, Mark Talbot takes us to the central story that helps us make sense of the suffering in our individual stories, the story of creation impacted by the curse because of sin. With insight and analysis of the original goal, original order, and original goodness of creation, he helps us to see not only how the impact of the curse has disrupted that order and goodness, but also what God is doing through Christ to redeem, restore, and bring us into the life of goodness and glory he intends to share with us forever.”
Nancy Guthrie, author, Even Better than Eden

“Mark Talbot joins together what can be easy to separate when thinking about suffering: consistently insightful investigation of the Bible (especially Genesis 1–3), clear-headed reflection on the human condition, and a deep tenderness toward actual sufferers. The way in which he folds together the stories we tell about our own lives with Scripture’s story was especially gratifying to read. Mark also manages to write about difficult subjects without ever being difficult to understand—he carries the reader along beautifully. I learned a lot from this book, and I recommend it highly.”
Eric Ortlund, Lecturer in Old Testament and Biblical Hebrew, Oak Hill College; author, Suffering Wisely and Well

“We need to avoid two mistakes: seeing our lives as pointless or thinking we’ll win an Oscar for best director. Wheelchair-bound Mark Talbot shows with soaring spirit that we have important roles as supporting actors in a majestic drama of creation, rebellion, suffering, and redemption plotted out by God.”
Marvin Olasky, Senior Fellow, Discovery Institute; author, The Tragedy of American Compassion and Lament for a Father

“With this volume, Mark Talbot continues what looks set to be a tour de force on Christianity and the suffering Christian. In his first book, he pressed the existential power and importance of individual narratives of pain and anguish. Here he steps back and sets those stories within the larger framework of the great narrative of God’s dealings with his people. If it is true that every story of human suffering has its unique pain for those involved, Talbot demonstrates with characteristic conviction and authority that all redemption from suffering must be understood in terms of the unique revelation of God in Christ.”
Carl R. Trueman, Professor of Biblical and Religious Studies, Grove City College; author, The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self

“This second volume in Mark Talbot’s tetralogy on suffering is a masterful handling of the vexing and deeply personal problem of suffering in the life of the Christian. Talbot the philosopher shows his skill as a biblical theologian by situating suffering within the grand sweep of the Bible’s fourfold storyline: creation, fall, redemption, and consummation. Both elegant and wise, as well as judicious and kind, this is biblical and theological reflection at its very best—the kind of thoughtful, mature analysis that feeds the people of God. There are treasures to be found on every page—and, as a bonus, in many of the endnotes! Christian, here you have a sure and steady guide. Take and read—and learn from someone who has thought more deeply and scripturally about suffering than anyone I know. Highly recommended!”
Todd Wilson, President, Center for Pastor Theologians; author, Real Christian; coauthor, The Pastor Theologian

“One of the greatest difficulties about enduring a time of suffering or sorrow is that it so often seems purposeless. It hurts so much and appears to accomplish so little. The path to peace is to set our suffering in the context of a wider story that God is telling in and through us—a story that Mark Talbot describes so well in the pages of this precious book.”
Tim Challies, author, Seasons of Sorrow