OCD and Christianity

“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal which comes upon you to prove you, as though something strange were happening to you.” (1Peter 4:12 )

God tests those he loves with fiery ordeals. They may be outward afflictions, such as war, disease, or abuse; or they may be inner torments. As the psalmist says: “Prove me, O Lord, and try me; test my heart and my mind with fire.” (Ps. 26:2) For most people reading this blog, the fiery ordeal is OCD. This is how God tries us, and it undeniably is a fire. When an obsessional fear strikes, there is a sense of desperation—yes, a burning, such that we feel that the most important thing in the world is to do something to address it. So, we do compulsions, and keep on doing them.

Peter says that we should not be surprised by our trials. Fat chance! We are always surprised by our obsessional fears. The same one hits again and again, maybe thousands of times, and we are shocked every time. That’s not normal…except it is normal for OCDers. We are stupendously afraid; and what our inordinate fearfulness exposes is a glaring lack of trust in God’s mercy and his providence. The advice of St. Peter, therefore, is directed especially to us, because we especially need it.

We must learn by the grace of God to not be surprised when a fiery ordeal comes upon us in the form of an obsessional fear. We must realize that, as Saint Peter says, the fear is present only in order prove us and make us stronger in faith. It is part of God’s plan for our salvation and sanctification. Martin Luther tells us in a commentary on this verse,

When faith begins, God does not forsake it; He lays the holy cross on our backs to strengthen us and to make faith powerful in us. God inflicts no glowing fire or heat—cross and suffering, which make you burn—on you for any other purpose than “to prove you,” whether you cling to His Word. God lays a cross on all believers in order that they may taste and prove the power of God—the power which they have taken hold of through faith.

It is only through enduring trials that we “taste” the power of God. Our faith grows through the process of bearing suffering. We learn that God will take care of us. Since our faith is proven through trials, we should neither be surprised nor afraid of them. Obsessional fears are custom designed by God for our good. We should not try to escape from them. If we perform compulsions of any type, we are bypassing God’s plan, a plan for us to grow in faith through tasting the power of his strength and mercy.

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4 Response Comments

  • Becca   at

    “Obsessional fears are custom designed by God for our good. We should not try to escape from them.”

    Does God really design fears for us? I am wondering constantly why he allows them, but this is a step farther!

    “If we perform compulsions of any type, we are bypassing God’s plan, a plan for us to grow in faith through tasting the power of his strength and mercy.” This I easily agree with.

    But does God allow OCD or ‘put it on us’ (like a cross)? Are the thoughts temptations from the evil one, our own flesh’s imagination (because of the fall) or hand-designed by God?

    Thank you for these lovely blogs!

    • admin   at

      that’s a classic point: whether god just allows certain bad things to happen, or actually causes them. luther, who i follow, tends to look more from the causal side (he believed in predestination), although he often talks of god allowing satan to do his work. depends on how you look at it. both are correct theologically. to me, they don’t contradict.

      • Leah   at

        I don’t “follow” luther. I follow Christ. I’m not sure about all of this bypassing God’s plan. Some days we will struggle and have a harder time resisting. some days we will have victories. God is there through all of these days. just think some of these comments can be rather hard on those who are daily taking up their cross.

        • Emerald   at

          God allows His children to suffer. But not in a malicous manner. But this glory and our good. Our faith needs to be tested and tried, otherwise it would not grow. God is not the author of evil but in His Holy Word, when you read the accounts of Job, Naomi (Ruth), the Apostles, and even Christ Himself, God ordained suffering to happen. He always redeems for His will to be done in our lives. OCD was ordained for me to have by God and I will have it for as long as He sees fit. It’s not out of hatred or disdain for me, but His love and grace to grow me and prove to me that all I need is Him.

          I hope this encourages us to rejoice in suffering and know those appointed times are from our God and He only does what is good for us.