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“But in the darkness the stars make it beautiful.”
An interdisciplinary study of Christian hope in the context of living with chronic pain

LORENZ, LENA,MARIA (2023) “But in the darkness the stars make it beautiful.”
An interdisciplinary study of Christian hope in the context of living with chronic pain.
Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

Full text not available from this repository.
Author-imposed embargo until 27 September 2026.


Holding on to hope in the midst of the experience of chronic pain is vital but can be difficult. The last three decades have seen a rapidly growing expansion of scientific research on the topic of hope. Most of that research has been conducted within the discipline of psychology and has been quantitative rather than qualitative. Hope here is regarded as human cognition, emotion and/or (inter)action. Further, psychology has a highly individualistic and positivistic view of hope. When such hope is measured by rating scales in the context of pain, the results are inconclusive. Taking theological perspectives on hope, and thereby adding the spiritual dimension, sheds some light on this. It is Christian hope that embraces, not excludes or fights against, pain. This is key for those living with chronic, physical pain. This thesis thus fills a gap in the research and clinical practice by putting forward a theologically informed understanding of hope in the context of chronic pain.
A review of research in psychology showed an understanding of hope that is person-centred and mostly cognitive. In contrast, reviewing the theological writings of St Augustine, Thomas Aquinas and, chiefly, Jürgen Moltmann revealed a hope that is Christocentric (thus, inclusive of pain) and primarily relational (thus, relying on and reaching out to the other). Asking for hope in the midst of pain is central in fibromyalgia, a pain condition of unknown cause, for which treatment options are very limited. A qualitative, interview-based study conducted for the purpose of this research found hope to be a complex, dynamic, life-given force with a variety of tasks and shapes. The proposed concept of hope suggests that pain (exemplarily for hardship and challenge) is the proper place for hope, its nature is integrative and relational and its work one of synthesis.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Theology and Religion, Department of
Thesis Date:2023
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:28 Sep 2023 09:25

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