On Getting Out of Bed: The Burden and Gift of Living

Reviewed by:

Connor Salter, Professional Writing alumnus from Taylor University, Upland, IN.


On Getting Out of Bed: The Burden and Gift of Living


Alan Noble


InterVarsity Press

Publication Date:

April 18, 2023




120 pages


Many of us struggle with mental illness. Depression and anxiety have especially become widespread phenomena in America. However, the problem is wider than many realize. Alan Noble explains in his introduction how newer research suggests even if we don’t have a clearly diagnosable/treatable mental illness, many of us have some issue that may be called mental suffering. Many of us have many days where we don’t know why we get out of bed. Therapy and medication can be great tools to help answer why we get out of bed but they are tools, not the answer itself. We can’t answer, “why am I getting out of bed?” with “to take my antidepressants.” We must go deeper. Noble uses the Bible’s discussions about God’s love and creation to give a surprising answer: God says life is inherently valuable, and he created us uniquely to live on earth in community with others. So, we get out of bed to live out two inherent callings: our obedience to our Lord who declares life is good, and our responsibility to love other humans.

Some readers may be shocked that Noble frames the discussion about what people live for (and the converse, why people shouldn’t end their lives) around responsibility rather than self-actualization. It doesn’t sound very inspiring to say we pursue life because God says so. A lesser writer might misuse this argument to shame readers who have mental illnesses. However, Noble makes smart choices that keep his book from falling into such traps.

First, Noble speaks from a place of empathy. He doesn’t specify where his mental health situation, saying that his sufferings are neither public nor private. However, he tells a story about spending several hours lying in his room unsure why to get up, and finding the strength when one of his children came in with a card. The scene makes it clear that Noble speaks a fellow sufferer, helping other sufferers find what they need.

Second, Noble clearly shows the responsibility answer has more roots in Christian thought than the self-help approach. Christians throughout history haven’t declared that humanity’s chief end is to explore their potential. They have declared that humanity’s chief end is “to worship God and enjoy him forever” (Westminster Shorter Catechism). Christianity does not say humans have hope because God will soon fix their lives. Christianity says humans have hope because Christ promises eternal salvation and renewal at the final resurrection. When someone has a chronic illness, a genetic predisposition to depression, or a brain injury leaving irreparable damage, self-help’s promises of “a better life if you just put in the effort” ring hollow. The truth (that we are created by a god who enjoyed creating us, who says life is good regardless of circumstances, who created us to glorify him and help others) rings true and gives lasting hope.

Third, Noble makes it clear that suffering is more pervasive than we realize, which leaves no room for shaming others. Discussions about suicide or depression often carry a “special cases” stigma. Noble’s emphasis on how we all experience some suffering removes such stigma. He also shows that we call have moments when we forfeit our God-given duty to live life—we can “tune out” in many little ways, from binging TV to drinking. Noble’s argument here parallels one that Wendell Berry makes in The Need to be Whole. Berry argues we must realize sin is wider than we imagine (we all sin in small ways without noticing), which means we can’t act shocked when we see others sin. Noble argues that we all suffer and we can all tune out of life in so many ways, so we can’t act shocked when we see others’ lives. Hence, shame gets neutralized and readers become free to talk about their suffering and recognize how normal it is.

Noble gives readers exactly what he promised. A book answering why readers get out of bed (starting today, recognizing it may be a struggle each day), with practical advice (to get help, to seek a community of people who can help), refusing to give any answers that won’t hold up under scrutiny. His answers may shock at first, but they provide plenty of substance.


Rating (1 to 5 stars):

5 stars

Suggested Audience:

Christians who suffer from anxiety, depression, and various other mental illness/mental suffering conditions, trying to answer the existential questions about what life is truly worth living for.

Christian Impact:

Noble makes the bold choice to say life is about following God, not self-actualization. His explanation of how this perspective changes our understanding of what we live for shows how this truth is enriching and compelling in counterintuitive, lasting ways.


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On Getting Out of Bed: The Burden and Gift of Living




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