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.”