OCD and Christianity

The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love. (Psalm 147:11)

Sometimes OCDers have only hope to lean on in order to endure their fears. This happens when faith cannot be found. One powerful reason to keep hoping is, of course, our anticipation that we will receive what we hope for. Yet often it seems even that is not enough. The verse quoted above provides another reason to keep on hoping: The act is, in itself, very pleasing to God. He loves those who have hope in Him even as they fear. Commenting on the verse above, Luther writes,

God hates those who are proud and presumptuous, and He loves those in whom fear still retains some hope and confidence, not in ourselves but in the mercy of God.”

Luther points out there are two types of people: Some who need to fear more, and some who need to hope more.

Just as some people have too much fear and too little hope and security, so others have too much security and hope and almost no fear….Thus these must fear the Lord, and those must hope for His mercy.”

OCDers pretty much have the fear-part down. We need to focus on hope. Specifically, as Luther points out, we need to hope not in ourselves, but only in God’s mercy. We shouldn’t put our hope in what we can do, because we are not that strong. We shouldn’t put it in what we think ought to happen, because we’re not that wise. We need to simply and humbly put our hope in God’s love and mercy. We just hope that he will cause things to work out in the best way possible for us and those we love. That is what is pleasing to him. In his commentary on Psalms, Luther offers advice to pastors regarding the best way to help people suffering in fear and despair.

I exhort and admonish you, teach them in such a way that they will lift themselves up and dare to hope, because it is written that hearts which are contrite and humble this way are a most pleasing sacrifice to God, which He prefers to all acts of worship.

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