Rising Above the Depths: A Beacon for Those Lost in Mental Suffering

Living in this world can be quite a challenge, and it’s not something we always feel comfortable talking about openly. We all occasionally find ourselves mired in what Alan Noble, an Associate Professor of English at Oklahoma Baptist University, refers to as “mental affliction” – a seemingly unbearable heaviness that dampens our desire to live and keep going.

Often, we look at others and assume, based on their smiles or productivity, that all is well with them. However, behind those external facades, many are wrestling with unseen inner battles. The root cause may vary. It could stem from an underlying medical condition, chronic pain, or simply life’s rollercoaster in a not-so-perfect world. But let’s be clear, no struggle is trivial.

Noble shares in his book, “On Getting Out of Bed: The Burden and Gift of Living,” how he once believed mental affliction was the outcome of individuals’ choices. I, too, held this belief until my personal journey through a season of suffering. Experience is indeed a stern teacher, revealing that most of those suffering mental affliction have done little, if anything, to incite it.

Regardless of our mental state, every new day presents us with a choice. We can either surrender to our afflictions or decide to embrace life, no matter how taxing the latter might be.

Noble’s work brings to light five crucial truths that everyone, particularly those struggling, should grasp:

  1. Diagnosing the cause doesn’t guarantee a cure. Pinpointing the reason behind suffering doesn’t necessarily lead to an immediate solution. As much as we strive to address the identified issues, the real healing is in the hands of the Lord.
  2. Your existence is a testimony that counts. While we don’t have control over the circumstances that cause us pain, our endurance is a testament to our strength. It matters to those around us and encourages them to persevere in their trials.
  3. Mental affliction is not a license for sin. While suffering warrants compassion, it doesn’t justify causing harm to ourselves or others. It’s crucial to be cognizant of our actions even in the throes of mental anguish. Living through the agony without succumbing to self-harm might inspire others to choose life over suicide.
  4. Sometimes, we forge ahead out of necessity. Despite our mental state, life’s responsibilities don’t pause. There will be instances when we’ll have to carry on, not because we want to, but because we need to.
  5. God’s word is a lantern for those in anguish. Noble concludes with divine truths from the scriptures that remind us that we’re seen, loved, and never alone in our trials. God’s desire for our well-being is unchanging, and His Spirit and people are ever ready to walk beside us.

Reading Noble’s book is like navigating through a maze of profound insights, with every page serving as a beacon of hope. It is a potent resource for anyone battling a season of suffering. The book serves as a gentle reminder of the truths we know but often forget when we’re drowning in despair. It offers solace in trials and encourages us to choose life, a decision that is indeed the most extraordinary act of courage.