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A Thorn in the Flesh: Finding Strength & Hope amid Suffering

Author: Pablo Martinez
Published By: Inter-Varsity Press (Nottingham)
Pages: 192
Price: £7.99
ISBN: 978 1 84474 188

Reviewed by Luke Penkett.

Beginning with discussions of suffering in the New Testament, notably our Lord’s and the Apostle Paul’s experiences, then moving on, or rather back, to the Old Testament figures of Moses, David and Jeremiah, Martinez, whose own thorn (like my own) is a rare eye disease, empathically, and with an abiding sense of humility, guides his reader from the ‘why’ of suffering through despair, acceptance, and perseverance to hope, strength and peace. His book is a shining model of theological reflection on his subject, presented with admirable clarity.

Martinez, a practising psychiatrist, carefully and wisely avoids the pitfalls of writing glibly or giving trite answers that can so easily, and alas so frequently, mar such books. He offers heartfelt and sound advice and counselling on dealing with the morass of emotions following loss. And he explains the dangers of suppressing our natural, if not particularly helpful, reactions to suffering.

Above all, the book offers the assurance that God is alongside not only the person suffering, but also each one of us who cares for sufferers. It is a practical, helpful book, drawing on a wide experience of his and other people’s suffering (there is an appendix of moving personal testimonies). It will be a useful resource for those suffering from their own thorns in addition to all of us engaged in caring for others.

Luke Penkett

Monk and Priest working with L'Arche Community

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You are reading Issue 42 of Ministry Today, published in March 2008.

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