OCD and Christianity

“Learn to say  ‘Away with you devil, you compel me to care for myself, when God everywhere says -I care for you; depend upon me.”
–Martin Luther

Martin Luther gave this advice to a member of his congregation who suffered from what we would now call OCD. Luther knew firsthand about the agony of tormenting thoughts, since he himself had suffered from them. They abated only after he learned to abandon his fears, completely and radically, to God’s mercy. He called the path of utter dependence on God, “by faith alone.”

This path is open to believers of the present day who suffer from OCD. When we identify that we are in the grips of an obsessional fear, we can give to God the responsibility for the outcome of that fear.  This is very difficult, but look at it this way. We know that God has control over all events and engineers all circumstances.  If He would for some reason want make the outcome of our greatest fear come true, shouldn’t we (in theory, at least) be willing to let him do it? Of course,  we can still have a very comforting degree of confidence, or hope, that the fear will not materialize, and that God will not test us severely. After all, He is merciful, and cares for us immeasurably.  He died for us.  Furthermore He has promised that he will not test us beyond what we can bear.

The biographer Richard Marius observes that Luther’s faith denotes “an attitude of heart and mind that leaves everything to God in the way that we might trust a promise from a loving father even when that father is distant from us and we have no visible proof that the promise will be kept.” Marius concludes tellingly that faith alone worked for Luther because it “translates responsibility to God.”

That’s what we OCDers must do. Give God the responsibility for obsessional fears. That’s what having faith means—to trust in God whatever may happen.  Let God do what He wants!

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10 Response Comments

  • Katie   at

    I like this one Dr. O. I struggle with obsessions and fears about cancer, that I will get it and not be able to handle it emotionally. How comforting to know we can turn over the responsibility of that over to God, and trust in His wisdom and lovingkindness, and that He knows best. My compulsion is to run to the Dr. For every little thing. Hard habit to break!!

  • Eldon   at

    Thank you so much. I have struggled with blasphemous thoughts or evil wicked thoughts that brings me so much fear that I start questioning if God will ever forgive me, if I am even worthy to pray, I then become fearful to read His word. I just, so fearful but I see now that others have gone through it and still are, and that this could be used for our good by submitting ourselves, entirely, to God and trusting Him and Him alone, by putting it in His hands, and walking by faith… It’s all to give Him glory and bring us closer to Him! God is good!

    • Diane Scarcelli   at

      I have the same problem, and I have had this for years. Thank you for courageously sharing this, as you’ve brought me great comfort. God bless you.

    • Bruce Mason   at

      I also share this horrid condition, and this website is a tremendous blessing!
      Boy, I think I’m all alone with these horrid, DARTS from the devil. The blasphemous thoughts sneak in there out of nowhere. I’ll be thinking “I hate this work …” and the evil one will slip in something else instead. Then I’m like:
      ‘Was that from me?’
      ‘Am I possessed of the devil?’
      ‘What happened to me?’
      Then, I ashamedly will admit that I have questioned God, wondering why this cannot go away. So then I start thinking I lost my salvation.
      I think the hardest aspect about this whole thing is other Christians’ inability to comprehend. That’s not fair for me to think, I realize now, but it’s incredibly frustrating when someone nonchalantly says, “Bruce needs prayer for anxiety …” Or they make a comparison to a worse condition, as if I don’t have it that bad with OCD!
      Thus, I have a tough time getting to know others, because I’m afraid they will not wanna listen, or try to listen, or just think I’m nuts.
      But I do agree, that this keeps me closer to God. So I am thankful for the Lord Jesus.
      God bless you.

      • KELLY SULZER   at

        @Bruce Mason, I had gone through those EXACT situations, not in the same way comma because we’re all different. But, I’ve always struggled with doubts about God, I think partially I wanted to try and figure His will out. Impossible task for a human! But, now I am realizing how important faith is and that we don’t have to fear coming to God to give it all to Him. We should have a reverence and awe type of fear that He is willing to take everything into His hands.

    • Kayla   at

      God knows our hearts… we are not alone… many of us live the Lord and our thoughts go far from where we want them… learn the tone of the thought and know it’s not from yourself… God knows us yesterday today and tomorrow… so no matter what form our thoughts take He knows we will continue to seek Him and be His child … love and prayers your sister inChrist

  • Sara   at

    How do we, as humans, know that we are correctly interpreting that God will forgive evil thoughts caused by OCD?

    • admin   at

      I appreciate the depth of that question. Basically, we have to take the risk that it is true in the face of the uncertainty caused by OCD. When we do, when God finds the time right to do it, we will find faith and know that our sins are forgiven.

    • Rita   at

      Because the LORD knows that these thoughts are not yours and I speak to myself because I suffer the same. He will not hold someone accountable when they hate these disgusting thoughts with all their fibre. He knows your heart and that’s what He weighs

  • RP   at

    I had the hardest time with intrusive thoughts while I was pregnant. It was a very difficult period in my life. Anyone who is struggling PLEASE watch this. It is so very helpful!!