OCD and Christianity

HOPE: To entertain expectation of something desired

Sometimes doubts become so strong that faith is impossible. A person wants to trust God with her fears, but can’t because she simply can’t find God. As Luther says, faith sometimes “crawls away and hides.” Most Christians don’t seem to have this problem. If they want to believe, they can push themselves to  believe. But in OCD, it is belief itself that is specifically attacked. That’s why it’s called “the doubting disease.” What are we to do when doubt rules us? Luther says in his Commentary on Psalms that says we must lean on hope.

Perhaps the weak and infirm conscience may say,
”But suppose I cannot believe: and thus find my despair to be insurmountable ? I will answer: Thou art not even then to despair. It is only the trial and temptation of hope…God is not really angry, he only tries [you], to see whether you will hope in his mercy, rather than in your own works.

For OCDers, our “own works” are our compulsions. Luther says we should not put our hope in them. Rather, we must put our hope in God’s mercy. The Great Reformer, who suffered obsessional fears himself, seems to be talking specifically to OCDers when he says,

[They] run about to this place and that, and consult now this person and now that, now doing this and now that, and trying all ways to obtain quietude for the heart; but they seek not after this hope, which alone can bring them the quiet they are seeking.

Practically, how do we implement hope? Luther makes this clear: We must endure uncertainty and perform no works, as we wait in patient hope for God’s mercy. That’s all there is to it. Unfortunately, it’s very difficult. But God arranges it so that we will learn to trust in his mercy.

Stand alone and endure the hand of God. For it is not our works, but the work of God, that is going on here; which must be endured alone by a patiently-suffering hope. The Lord is good unto them that wait on him; to the soul that seeketh him.”

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13 Response Comments

  • Mike Loncono   at

    Blessed! So timely and helpful – so practical.

  • Kellie   at

    Thank you so much for this entry, it speaks to exactly where I am right now. praying for God’s grace that I may believe, trust, and hope in His mercy…

  • Kendra   at

    I’m struggling with salvation doubts and was triggered after I heard a sermon talking about how the Holy Spirit guides believers but I haven’t experienced this guidance and it scares me and makes me wonder if the Holy Spirit is even within me. I kept pleading with God to save me and give me a saving faith. I struggle with believing the crucifixion really happened, it’s hard to fathom or imagine, but I want to believe. I pray for God to help my unbelief. I’ve dealt with this many times before. Im just afraid that I’m really not saved. I know that to beat ocd I must not give into the compulsion but I worry that what if I really don’t have ocd and I’m just really unsaved.

    • Marie   at

      @Kendra – I think that’s a common fear for those of us with OCD, right? It’s one way that OCD tries to trap us again – by trying to make us think that we don’t have OCD. 🙂

    • Krystal   at

      It seems to me that you do believe. How can you fear something so severely if you don’t believe in it? Why would you plead to someone that you don’t think exists? Trust that he has heard your prayers and that he will not turn away those that come to him.

      I say this in love and much sympathy I struggle with the same thing from time to time and I know it is heartbreaking.

      • Kendra   at

        Thank you both for your comments. I’m trying to pursue God through fasting and prayer, but I see no change in me, my faith is still weak. I’m unemployed and it’s frustrating, I also lack the relationship that others have with Christ. I never get encouragement from the Holy Spirit or direction.it scares me. I’m scared that I’m deceiving myself into thinking I’m saved when I’m really not

        • Kellie   at

          Kendra, I just wanted to let you know I am in a very similar place right now. My faith is all but gone, I only get confusion and condemnation when I read my Bible. I don’t have any answers for you because I don’t have them for myself right now, but I thought you might like to know you aren’t the only one.

          Reading books can help some. There are a couple from pastors who have OCD, and “Grace” by Max Lucado helped me some.

          • Katherine   at

            Can you recommend any books by pastors who have OCD?

          • admin   at

            Nothing in particular comes to mind, although there are many books that are focused on Bible study dealing with anxiety in general.

          • Kendra   at

            Thank you Kellie for your encouragement, I’m sorry youre struggling right now too. I will be praying for you and others here.

  • Mike   at

    The LORD Provided a verse that affirms this counsel –
    “Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear Him, On those who hope in His mercy,”
    ‭‭Psalms‬ ‭33:18‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

  • Donna   at

    Two books that I have read and were very helpful are Jesus and OCD by Pastor Charles Thompson and OCD Be Still and Know by P.A. Kennan. Both are written by Christians who suffered from OCD.