Book review: A thorn in the flesh

Pablo Martinez is a psychiatrist, church leader, speaker and writer. Such a mix makes for a scholarly, helpful, godly and practical book. I have been looking for a book like this for a long time…a book that deals with suffering from a theological, psychological and practical perspective with a good measure of grace and pastoral insight. A thorn in the Flesh: Finding strength and hope amid suffering is a book I am glad I have found.

Let me unpack the 3 areas I found helpful:

Theologically

This book is a deep unpacking of 2 Corinthians 12 and the ‘thorn in the flesh’. Marinez has a deep respect for Scripture and is able to unpack specific words and bigger principles. I felt throughout that the Bible was in the driving seat. Much of the book is good exegesis.

Martinez has a robust view of suffering and how we are to respond to it. It is a real, Biblical, Cross centred approach.

Psychologically

However, with his medical background he is able to look at the psychology behind what happens in suffering. This was particularly helpful when dealing with depression and anxiety. He has a skilled approach at dissecting a problem or phase of suffering.

Martinez is able to look at his science through the lens of Scripture and so have a balanced and helpful mix of common and special grace. I think this is a vital concept to grasp. There is much good in the medical world due to common grace, but that never negates the need for special grace. Indeed, common grace without special grace is weak and short term.  Martinez shows us a way of living with both in their right and God intended place.

Practically

So far this book has sounded rather ivory tower…but it is not. The book is full of practical examples and suggestions (not least Appendix 1) and is grounded in his own experience of a degenerative eye condition. This means that as you read the book you can apply it to your own life and the life of those close to to yo very easily.

In a nut shell

Ultimately, this book will help you see:

Suffering has a purpose

-God has grace and power that is sufficient

-It will be tough

-God will be glorified through it

-‘the way in which we face the thorns in our life is the best sermon that we can ever preach’

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