Podcast: GETTING out of Bed with Alan Noble

April 12, 2023

Show Notes

On this episode of the podcast, I talk with Dr. Alan Noble about his new book, On Getting Out of Bed: The Burden and Gift of Living. Getting out of bed may seem like a simple thing to do, but for many who struggle with mental affliction, getting out of bed is an act of faith and defiance against despair, a testimony to that fact that life is worth facing. Among the topics we discuss:

  • – The difference between the categories of “mental suffering” and “mental illness” and why there might be a danger in over-relying on the category of mental illness
  • – Why the younger generation in particular seems to struggle to get out of bed, and what might give them courage to do so.
  • – How literature, especially The Road by Cormac McCarthy offers us an embodied answer to the question of getting out of bed.
  • – Counsel for those who walk with loved ones who struggle with more debilitating mental illness
  • – Hope for those who struggle to believe that the grace of Christ (rather than suffering) is the deepest reality
  • We hope that whether this is your testimony, or whether you walk with those who struggle to get out of bed, that you find this conversation helpful.

    Get the book: https://www.ivpress.com/on-getting-out-of-bed

    About Alan Noble: https://www.oalannoble.com/  


Transcript (click to expand)

Note: This transcript is autogenerated and may contain grammatical errors.

(00:08) Justin Ariel Bailey: Welcome to the newest episode of the In All Things podcast, where we host conversations with diverse voices about living creatively in God’s created world. I’m your host, Justin Ariel Bailey, and I teach at Dordt University, which is home to the Andreas Center, the sponsor of this podcast. On this episode of the podcast, I talk with Dr. Alan Noble about his new book, On Getting Out of Bed. Getting out of bed may seem like a simple thing to do, but for many who struggle with mental affliction, getting out of bed at all is an act of faith and defiance against despair, a testimony to the fact that life is worth facing. We hope that whether this is your testimony or whether you walk with those who struggle to get out of bed, that you find this conversation life giving. And we thank you, as always, for tuning in.

(01:03) Justin Ariel Bailey: At the end of every year, I try to spend some time in reflection. At the end of last year, I noticed that despite the gratitude I felt for things like meaningful work, a healthy family, and a comfortable living, I also felt a thinness to my soul, to quote Bilbo Baggins, “Like butter scraped over too much bread.” Despite a full year, I still found myself feeling disappointed and discontent, restless and resentful, undisciplined and uncertain. There’s a line in Rebecca Konyndyk DeYoung’s book Glittering Vices, where she says something like, “We are stuck between a self that we cannot bear and a self we can’t bear to become.” I relate to that, and there is definitely a part of me that thinks I can fix it. My first impulse is to look for a solution, to think, what do I need to change? How can I renew my rhythms of prayer and presence? How can I be less connected to the polluted, digital ecosystem? How can I slow down? How can I lean in? How can I…? There is something right about asking these questions and seeking to make changes. But the danger is that we will look for a technique, a fix, a cure for the ordinary weariness of being human. There is a human struggle that will not be solved by any amount of self-improvement. Weariness is a permanent feature of the human condition on this side of things (just ask the Preacher of Ecclesiastes). There are some things for which there is no quick cure – only a lifelong therapy – a long, slow learning to surrender, learning to trust, learning to lean on the everlasting arms. Our guest today, Dr. Alan Noble, has written a new book on this very subject called On Getting Out of Bed. It is a book, he says, about mental suffering. Note, it is not a book about mental illness, though mental suffering might include mental illness. But not all suffering can be so easily categorized, and yet all suffering must be borne. His goal is not to diminish more debilitating struggles with mental illness and offers hope and counsel for those who do. But he also situates those struggles within a larger context, what he calls the burden and gift of living that is shared by every human being. Dr. Noble is associate professor of English at Oklahoma Baptist University, the author of numerous pieces and three books – Disruptive Witness, You Are Not Your Own, and now, On Getting Out of Bed. On that note, here’s my conversation with Alan Noble.

(03:55) Justin Ariel Bailey: I’m joined now by a guest, Alan Noble, who is the author of a new book On Getting Out of Bed: The Burden and Gift of Living from InterVarsity Press. Alan, thanks for joining us on the In All Things podcast.

(04:07) Alan Noble: Thank you for having me. I’m excited to be here.

(04:10) Justin Ariel Bailey: So, you begin your book with a note that, quote, “The subject of this book is mental suffering and that its assumption is that everyone experiences mental suffering at some point or another.” And you say that you wrote the book both for those who struggle regularly with mental suffering as well as for anyone who knows someone who does, which, again, covers just about anyone. And so I wonder if you could say what you mean by mental suffering and how it overlaps with and is distinct from mental illness.

(04:37) Alan Noble: Yes. So, a lot of this book is trying to explode the way we think about mental health, and mental illness, and what I call mental suffering. And one of the ways I’m trying to do that is that I want to expand our definition. So often when we talk about mental health, we are thinking very narrowly in terms of mental illness. And what I want to show is that actually, a lot of the suffering that we experience in life doesn’t fit neatly into categories. So, for example, somebody might have a mental illness and never get diagnosed. Somebody might have a diagnosed mental illness. Somebody might just go through the normal travails of life and suffer in various ways. But that experience of suffering is what remains basic and common to all of these people. And there are real and important distinctions between somebody who has a mental illness and somebody who doesn’t have a mental illness. So I’m not trying to obscure those differences, but I also want to say gosh, the day to day, moment to moment, existential experience of suffering often has some real similarities, similarities that it’s valuable for us to highlight and to understand. And that’s what I want to do in this book. And so, what I call mental suffering or mental affliction, it includes those things that are diagnosed, those things that are diagnosable, but it also includes experiences of mental affliction that aren’t diagnosable. So, I want to expand that definition.

(06:20) Justin Ariel Bailey: Yeah, with that, you note in the book the positive development in recent years that we’ve destigmatized mental illness in a lot of ways, and we have—or we tend to have—greater understanding for those who suffer from mental illness. But you also note that there’s a danger, perhaps in relying too heavily on the language of mental health or thinking about mental affliction in terms of illness versus wellness. What is that danger? What’s the danger of using that language?

(06:48) Alan Noble: I think we can objectify our suffering too much. I think we can turn our illnesses into categories and put them in boxes and detach ourselves from them. And there can be some real value in actually getting some distance if you do have a mental illness and getting some distance from it, receiving a diagnosis, that can be very empowering. And so I’m not diminishing that. But I also want to say are they’re ways in which we turn our suffering into a thing that we set on the shelf—or set on the table—that we hold out at a distance and portray and project to other people, as opposed to something that is internal and we’re always experiencing in some way, which is the reality of mental suffering. Mental suffering, by its very nature is always internal. And although it’s valuable to externalize it and to articulate it, there is a danger in making it a thing too much. One of the dangers— and this is a danger that I think we don’t usually want to talk about, but it’s real—is that we can come to fall in love with or come to be proud of or come to leverage our suffering as part of our identity rather than something that we’re experiencing. And this has to do with the power of identity creation in the modern world. We are under such tremendous pressure to create, project, and sustain an identity that we can turn anything in our lives, anything, absolutely anything, into part of our identity that we project out into the world. One danger with that is that we are afraid of losing something by growing through our experience. So, yeah, it’s not something that people like to talk about. Nobody really wants to admit, actually, I see my anxiety or my depression is a part of my identity and who I am. But I think that’s a temptation.

(09:02) Justin Ariel Bailey: Yeah. One of the other things, and this is from page 21 in the book, you write, “If there’s a diagnosis, we think there must be a cure. This problem, like all other problems, can be fixed if I just take the right steps and find the correct technique.” Could you say a bit more about that?

(09:17) Alan Noble: Yeah. So, we live in a problem-solving society, right? We love to solve problems. And one of the ways we solve problems is through language. When we can label something, then it belongs someplace. Then there is a taxonomy, then there is a solution, then there are steps that I can take to address this problem. Sometimes that’s true with mental suffering, sometimes it’s not. Sometimes there are no easy answers, sometimes there are no clear answers. Sometimes you’re just stumbling through the dark, seeking treatment after treatment, doctor after doctor, medicine after medicine, hoping and praying for some relief. And sometimes you get answers about why you’re suffering in particular ways. Sometimes you get treatments that can really make a difference. Sometimes you don’t. Sometimes you could just find ways to mitigate, to ameliorate your suffering, but never a cure. And so that—I’m glad you brought that passage up—because I think that’s another really good example of the way the language of mental illness can make us think that there are easy solutions, and then when they’re not, we often turn and blame ourselves. I have depression, or I have anxiety. I have whatever it might be. And therefore, because it has an entry in the DSM Five, the Diagnostic something. Manual service manual. I don’t know. I teach English.

(10:59) Justin Ariel Bailey: DSM Five? Yeah. The Diagnostic Manual for Psychologists.

(11:03) Alan Noble: There you go. Yeah. We feel like if it has an entry in that, then there should be some clear steps that I can take. And when we discover that there aren’t, then it’s easy for us to blame ourselves, and that just adds to the problem.

(11:18) Justin Ariel Bailey: Yeah. So, again, to clarify, you’re not denying mental illness, or the seriousness of that people struggle with, but you’re also noting the fact that there is this, as the subtitle says, “The burden and gift of living,” this part of being human, that all of us—this burden that all of us—carry. I was thinking about last year when I was sort of doing reflections. At the end of the year, I’m just tired, I’m just weary, and I was sort of starting to look for a technique. What have I been doing wrong? What do I need to eliminate from my life? Or what do I need to add in? And I sort of, through reflection, realized perhaps part of this is the weariness of being human, of getting older, of just living in the subtitle of another one of your books is an “inhuman world.”

(12:07) Alan Noble: Yeah.

(12:08) Justin Ariel Bailey: And I wanted to ask you about that, because your previous book is titled You Are Not Your Own: Belonging to God in an Inhuman World. And I think I’m right in saying that this new book about getting out of bed, I think started as a chapel talk, was meant to be an appendix to that book and then grew into a separate book. And so I wonder if you could tell a bit of that story and about how the two books are related. You’ve already alluded to some of the memes of that previous book in terms of our identity creation and how much of a burden that is. But yeah, how do you hope that this book extends that larger project?

(12:40) Alan Noble: Yeah, it’s interesting. I think you could actually even go back to my first book, Disruptive Witness: Speaking Truth in a Distracted Age, because in that book I talk about the way we commonly distract ourselves from these deep feelings that we have. Typically, in that book, I talk about our sin nature—that we don’t want to identify it, we don’t want to acknowledge it and deal with it. And so we distract ourselves constantly. And as I was going around the country talking about that book, I realized that’s not the only reason people are distracting themselves. A lot of people are distracting themselves because they’re depressed and they’re anxious. Well, why are they depressed and anxious? Well, at least some of that I want to argue, and I do argue, in You Are Not Your Own—some of that anxiety and depression is a rational response, or at least a reasonable response to living in an environment that’s not made for us, that’s designed for humans who are their own and belong to themselves, which is an inhuman burden to carry. So in that book, I take a more sociological look at suffering. What is it that’s causing us to suffer in this way? What are these burdens that we’re all walking around with? Why is it so hard to live in the modern world without feeling alienated, depressed, anxious, weary, tired, burnt out? And in this book, I take a step away from the sociological; I’m not asking the question, what causes this? So, for example, there would be a way of writing this book that deals with the COVID pandemic, right? And the suffering, the trauma, however you want to label it, that a lot of people went through, if not all of us, in some way over the last few years. There’s a way of writing this book that talks about the role of social media in creating anxiety among particularly young people, particularly young women. But I didn’t write that book. Instead, what I wanted to do, my last book asked the sociological and philosophical questions that drive, that I think are trying to get at the core of what drives this suffering. And this book sort of takes a step back and says, well, regardless of what causes this suffering, day to day, you have to deal with it. Day to day, moment by moment. You have to have an answer for why it’s worth living. And to some extent, it doesn’t really matter what the cause of this suffering is. You first of all, have to know what to do, how to survive, how to get through each day. That’s the core question. So let’s deal with that. You’re right to point out that these books are really in conversation with each other, but this one is more what I would call existentialist than sociological.

(15:49) Justin Ariel Bailey: Yeah, that’s helpful. It’s interesting because I read On Getting Out of Bed first a few weeks ago when I got an advanced reader copy. And then I read You Are Not Your Own. Second, I read Disruptive Witness a few years ago when it came out as well. But because I read On Getting Out of Bed first, particular passages in You are Not Your Own struck me perhaps differently than somebody who read your books in order. And one passage in particular was, you wrote that the stereotype about the younger generation—so the sort of college students that you teach and that I teach—is that they have been overly affirmed. They’ve been given participation trophies, they’re unable to compete in the real world, and that they don’t get out of bed because they don’t care. You say that your experience as a professor has been the opposite and that when students get out of bed, don’t get out of bed, it’s because they care too much.

(16:37) Alan Noble: Yeah.

(16:37) Justin Ariel Bailey: I wonder if you could say more about that.

(16:40) Alan Noble: No, I think that’s absolutely right. That’s been my experience, and maybe I’m just working with students who are high achievers, but I don’t think that’s the case. I think that this generation is carrying around this burden of having to create and sustain and project an interesting, exciting, meaningful, purposeful life. And they are hyper-aware that we live in a very competitive world, a very competitive society. This is one of the things that social media does to us is it makes us aware that there are always more talented, more beautiful, more interesting people all around us. And when they come to college and are faced with a challenge that maybe they can’t meet to the expectations that they have for themselves, what can happen is that student folds in, they give up. They decide, I can’t compete in this society with these standards, with these demands. And so I’m just not going to play this game anymore. I give up. And an interesting thing in our own time, an interesting aspect of our own time, is that there is so much high quality, easily accessed entertainment that someone who is middle class can effectively drop out of society and numb themselves and distract themselves with content constantly. And so, what can happen is I can have a student who comes in and didn’t turn in work, and I’ll ask them, “Well, what did you do all weekend? Why were you unable to turn in this paper?” And they’ll say something like, “I was so depressed, all I could do is watch Friends for like 24 hours.” And I think to some people of an older generation that sounds like sloth, that sounds like laziness. But it’s not laziness, it’s depression, which is different.

(18:55) Justin Ariel Bailey: Yeah, that’s fascinating. I have that same experience with students and yeah, at the ones I feel compassion. So my first response is I feel compassion for them. And then, so I always say to students, because I teach classes on pop culture, and I say there is a space for escape that you need to check out of an inhuman world, but that can’t become your long-term strategy for dealing with life. It only sort of kicks the can down the road a bit. I wonder if you wanted to speak to those students. Obviously, this book in many ways has written to that sort of student. It began as a chapel talk. It has particular resonance for younger generations. I thought, as I read it, that this was the sort of book that we should give to every freshman in college, or maybe every college student for one reason because it’s short, and they’re more likely to read it. But it’s very compassionate, it’s not coddling. And so for many of our listeners who are our students, my students, they’ll listen to this podcast, or for college students in general, those who struggle to get out of bed, which also includes us, but particularly for college students, what are you hoping they’ll receive from this book? How do you hope they will answer the question, why get out of bed?

(20:10) Alan Noble: My hope is that they will, as you say, obviously see the hope and the value in their lives. My hope is that they’ll get out of bed because their lives are good. Their lives are fundamentally gifts from a loving God who cares for them even when—and this is, I think, the key—even when you don’t feel like your life is meaningful, is purposeful, is valuable. It is one of the first things to go when you’re suffering, particularly from depression, is a sense of purpose. You feel like your life lacks direction, that you lack agency, that there is anything meaningful or exciting or valuable in your particular existence. And that is your subjective experience. And I don’t want to discount that it’s wrong. And I’m not afraid to tell you that it’s wrong, but I want to recognize that you are feeling that way, and that feeling is a real feeling. But it’s not true. It’s not the fundamental truth about reality. The fundamental truth about reality is that God loves you, and that he created you, and he’s sustaining you moment by moment in this existence, which is exciting. And when we can’t recognize that about ourselves, what I want to say is we need to look to other people because there are other people around us who we can turn to for hope. And sometimes when we can’t see it in ourselves, we can see it in others and recognize, well, the lives of my friends are meaningful. Maybe my life is not, but the lives of my friends are meaningful. And so part of what I want people to take from this book is the recognition that when we choose to get out of bed despite suffering, we are communicating to the people around us who we love, those people whose value and worth is evident to us. We’re communicating to them that it’s worth living despite suffering. Because this is just fundamentally how humanity works, is that we learn from other people. So when I see somebody who’s suffering and they give up, that communicates to me that when I suffer, I should give up as well. Now, I didn’t ask to be my brother’s keeper. I didn’t ask to be a witness to other people about the goodness of creation, but that’s what it means to live. It’s true whether I signed up for it or not, it’s fundamentally true. People are watching me. My children are watching me. My students are watching me. My colleagues are watching me. Strangers, I don’t even know their names, but they’re watching me. And when I choose to get up, despite suffering, what that communicates is this life is worth living. This life is beautiful and valuable and worth living, even though it’s hard. Now, as I said at the beginning of this answer, one of the first things to go when you experience depression is a feeling of purpose. And so when you understand life in this way, when you understand that you are bearing witness to the goodness of God, by getting out of bed each morning, you recognize that you have purpose. Even putting your feet on the floor and getting out of bed is a witness to other people. And that should hopefully motivate you in an exciting way, because you realize, I’m doing something meaningful just by going through the motions, just by doing the basic things. Today, I am doing something meaningful.

(24:15) Justin Ariel Bailey: One of the stories that you tell that embodies the message of the book comes from Cormac McCarthy’s novel The Road.

(24:22) Alan Noble: Yeah.

(24:22) Justin Ariel Bailey: You’re a professor of English literature, and so you use this story, which is about a father and a son who face an uncertain future. And I found it incredibly powerful and illustrative of the central message of your books. I wonder if you could retell a bit of that and how it relates to the message that you’re trying to communicate.

(24:40) Alan Noble: Yeah, literature is so effective at teaching us, and this novel has taught me a lot. So, the setting of this novel is a post-apocalyptic America. The world has, as we know it, society as we know it, civilization as we know it, has ended from some unknown disaster. There’s scholarly debate about what caused the disaster, but the point is civilization has ended. The sky is covered with ashes, and it’s the story of a father and son journeying down a road trying to find, quote, “The good guys,” trying to find other people who are living life for the future and living with a sense of morality and purpose. The world is filled with cannibals and with gangs of violent men. There aren’t very many women left. In fact, the mother in this family commits suicide. And her logic is that eventually they’re going to get caught and eaten, and they’re going to suffer tremendously. And so it’s better to end her life now. And so, it’s a book that asks the question, why get out of bed? And it has one of my favorite quotes. The son asks the father, “What’s the bravest thing you ever did?” And the dad said, “Getting up this morning,” or something to that effect, “Getting out of bed this morning.” And what I think that captures is the truth that life is very difficult. We’re not living in a post-apocalyptic world, but our lives—yet, not yet—but, but our lives are really difficult. And that novel forces us to ask the question, why live? Because in our current lives, we have so much going on around us. It’s easy most days, but the core of my book is the idea that someday you’re going to have to answer this question. It’s easy most days for us to not answer the question, why is life worth living? Because we can distract ourselves. We can watch Friends for hours on end. But eventually we have to face this question and we need to have an answer. And this book, this novel, provides an answer for that question. And part of the answer is that we’re living for the good of each other. The father knows that if he gives up hope and commits suicide, which is what his wife did, then his son is going to do the same. And even when the father doesn’t think that his own life is worth living, he inherently sees the goodness of his son’s life and that motivates him to get out of bed each morning and to keep fighting. And I think that truth is valid for us as well. When you are in these periods where you are under the illusion, because it’s not true, under the illusion that your life is not meaningful, you can look at the life, lives of other people who you love and see that their lives are good and that can motivate you to keep going for their sake.

(28:05) Justin Ariel Bailey: Just going to read part of that passage after you tell that story you write, “You need to know that your being in the world is a witness and it counts for something. Your existence testifies. There is no mitigating this fact. There is nowhere you can hide where your life will not speak something to the world. All we can do sometimes is to decide what our existence is a witness to, what it speaks of, and how we can share the burden of witnessing with one another.” I love that sense of you mentioned the burden and gift of living, but both the burden and the gift are shared among us. And it connects to something else that you say throughout the book, which is something like this: your suffering is unique, but it’s not special. Or your suffering does not make you special. And it’s interesting. I’ve been reading Mary Karr, who is a poet, her memoir Lit. And just yesterday I came across her as she was kind of struggling with addiction to alcohol and in recovery, running into that same sort of idea that your suffering does not make you special. And it was liberating for her in some way. And you say there’s something comforting about knowing that your suffering does not make you special. So could you say more about that?

(29:22) Alan Noble: Yeah. So for one, I think it’s valuable to know that you’re not alone, that your suffering is being experienced by others throughout time.

(29:35) Justin Ariel Bailey: You’re not the only one.

(29:36) Alan Noble: Yeah, and that’s deeply comforting, but it’s also good to know it connects to something I said earlier about identity. When you recognize that your suffering doesn’t make you special, then you can let go of your suffering when it’s possible. Some forms of suffering just stick with us, and they’re like Paul’s thorn in the flesh. They’re not going to go away this side of paradise. But others can be mitigated or even cured. I mean, there are things that some people actually get relief from their mental afflictions, which is awesome and wonderful and a blessing. And when you realize that your suffering doesn’t make you special, you can let go of it because you’re not losing yourself. You’re losing an experience that you had. You’re losing a painful experience. But when your suffering becomes, when you come to think that your suffering makes you special, you can’t afford to lose it. You can’t afford to lose it. It’s too close to you. It’s too much of a part of you. It’s too much of your identity. And then, in a perverse way, you can come to fall in love with it or identify with it. And I think that’s becoming in bondage to your suffering rather than being freed. So you said that she felt liberated when she realized that her suffering didn’t make her special. Well, I think that’s perhaps one of the reasons why is when you realize that your suffering doesn’t make you special, it’s possible to let go of some of it and move on.

(31:18) Justin Ariel Bailey: So, I want to ask you about those who struggle with more severe forms of mental illness or mental suffering. You note that you wrote this book both for those who struggle with mental affliction, as well as those who are walking with others who are struggling. And again, saying that we all struggle with mental suffering is not meant to diminish those with more serious mental struggles. It’s meant to rather situate it. And so I wonder what counsel you would give to those who are trying to walk with friends or partners or students who struggle with more debilitating forms of mental suffering.

(31:53) Alan Noble: So, education and advocacy are the two things that come to mind. The first two things that come to mind the first is education. When someone comes to you and says, and is vulnerable and says, “I suffer from anxiety, I suffer from severe depression, from schizophrenia, from severe obsessive-compulsive disorder,” whatever it might be, you need to educate yourself, because every illness has its own challenges, its own pitfalls, its own dangers, its own quirks. And you can’t walk with them effectively unless you know the terrain. So, you need to educate yourself about that, about them, and if they’re being vulnerable enough to share, then you can take the time to learn. And there are so many wonderful resources available, free. Now, if you just type in how to help someone with severe depression, how to help someone with OCD, how to help someone, how to be a family member of someone with schizophrenia or whatever it might be, you’re going to find resources available to you. And there are podcasts, and there are books, and there are online communities, and there are support groups. But be educated because it’s possible to actually make things worse for someone if you’re not educated, unintentionally. But it’s possible to say the wrong things, to encourage them in the wrong way, to equip them in the wrong way, so that you’re actually just enabling or harming their therapy progress. The other thing I would say is advocacy. Advocate for that person. Encourage them to get counseling, encourage them to see professional therapists, psychiatrists, to get help, because we do have great help available to us. But when you’re suffering, you can get to a place where you feel like you deserve to be here, and there’s no hope, and you’re not going to get out. And so you might as well just stay. And so to be a good friend means saying no. You need to keep advocating for yourself. You need to keep trying. If that therapist wasn’t helpful, let’s find another one. If you need support, let’s find you the support that you need being an advocate. And then I think maybe the third would be being present. This is really hard for us because we, as a people, as a culture, we don’t sacrifice very often for each other. We’re not present with each other very often. We’re a very divided, isolated, lonely, and alienated culture, western culture in America right now. But that’s what you need. You need someone who will you need to be the kind of person who will show up, who will pick up the phone, who will text back, who will be present when that person needs an ear, needs a prayer. Needs encouragement, needs a reminder that they are loved, that God cares for them, that they are going to be okay, that they’re going to get better and things, encouragement of that nature.

(35:15) Justin Ariel Bailey: Yeah, thank you for that. Let me ask you a question for those who maybe struggle with faith or struggle to believe in general, because in your books you describe the burden of living in an inhuman world, of belonging to ourselves, of living in a world where everything, including faith, feels optional. But there’s always this turn right in your books in which you encourage us to look to Christ, to believe that the grace of Christ and not suffering is the deepest reality. And I find that turn incredibly lifegiving. But I wonder what you would say to those who don’t have those resources to turn to either, because they feel quite set in their unbelief. Maybe that’s one category of people. And then secondly, those who struggle to believe is near the heart of their mental suffering. So if our resource is to turn and look to Christ or to believe that our life is a gift of God, what would you say to those who don’t have those resources to fall back on?

(36:16) Alan Noble: Yeah, that’s a hard question to answer, because for me, trusting in God’s love has been the heart of how I and the people around me have been able to persevere through suffering. And that’s not to say that there’s never been any doubts, because there have been. But those doubts have been turned to leaps of faith, frankly. Where when I don’t feel confident, when I feel frightened, when I feel scared, when I feel uncertain, it is my trust in God and his goodness—even when I struggle to believe in that goodness—that has gotten me through. So I guess what I would say my real answer would be if the account that I give in this book resonates with you, and it seems beautiful, and it seems true, and it seems like something that you would like to believe. You would like to believe that you live in a universe where God loves you and cares for your existence and is sustaining you moment by moment. Then try believing. Just try believing, because it might be that this account is beautiful and resonates with you because it’s true. Often true things resonate with us. Often true things are the beautiful things, and the beautiful things are the true things. So that would be my encouragement.

(38:01) Justin Ariel Bailey: That’s lovely. The book is On Getting Out of Bed: The Burden and Gift of Living by Alan Noble. The book is published by InterVarsity Press. Alan, thanks for joining us on the In All Things podcast.

(38:13) Alan Noble: Thank you for having me.

(38:24) Andreas Center: Thanks for listening to the In All Things podcast from the Andreas Center at Dordt University. Original music is provided by The Ruralists, and thanks are in order to Ruth Clark, Channon Visscher, Vaughn Donahue, and the production team at the Andreas Center. You can find us online at inallthings.org or follow us on Twitter under the name @in_all_things. You can subscribe to this podcast on iTunes, Spotify, and wherever podcasts are found. And if you find our content beneficial, please help us out by leaving a review and sharing with others. Thanks for tuning in.

About the Author
  • Justin Ariel Bailey works at the intersection of Christian theology, culture, and ministry. Having served as a pastor in a number of diverse settings, his research seeks to bridge gaps between church and academy, and the formational spaces where they overlap. He is the author of the book Reimagining Apologetics (IVP Academic, 2020) and the forthcoming volume Interpreting Your World (Baker Academic, 2022). He serves as associate professor of Theology at Dordt University and is the host of the In All Things podcast. 

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