“Why get out of bed? Or, more bluntly, why live?”
Throughout On Getting Out of Bed, Alan Noble insists on taking seriously the question of why we should bother with living, even calling it “the most essential question in life.” He bluntly acknowledges the pain of going through life, saying, “There’s kind of an unspoken conspiracy to ignore how difficult life is, or to reframe it as something romantic—a heroic challenge we overcome on our way to the good life.” Noble is clear: suffering does make value in life, but it is not something we have the option to avoid. Alongside this somber truth, he discusses the shortcomings of so many attempts at answering this question and addressing the problems of depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses—they might insist on the value of life for the sake of itself, but sometimes we will need something bigger than the idea of living for the sake of living.
The experience of depression, or any mental health condition, is subjective, as Noble consistently emphasizes and anyone who has sought medication or cognitive therapy knows. There is no single solution that will work for everyone, and there is not a “cure.” Noble is realistic about what we can look for in terms of answers and the reality of frustration that people feel. He never dismisses human struggles as illegitimate, and he takes seriously our need to have guidance when life doesn’t appear to be worth living.
Noble encourages people to seek therapy and medication, as needed. He asserts the usefulness of treatment, yet he discusses the reality that so many people have been left frustrated by the limitations of medicine. Medicine without also answering the question, “Why live?” is insufficient.
Noble’s book is simultaneously comforting and challenging. It does not try to give platitudes but calls out empty encouragement. It argues logically and emotionally for why today you should get out of bed. Never does Noble pretend that getting through the day will be easy. Rather, he argues that though we will not rid ourselves of fear and despair, life is worth living regardless. Life isn’t always going to be pleasant, but it holds inherent meaning. On the worst days, it takes immense trust in God to accept the gift of life from God, but the fact that our life is from God and for God is what gives it meaning.
We have a mandate: Bear witness to the glory of God by getting out of bed. (IVP)