OCD and the Promises of God

“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Phil 4:7

I have OCD.

At least, that’s what the doctors say now. I saw a doctor about a year ago to discuss issues related to my kids. Many of their tendencies I saw in myself. My reasoning was simple. If I could figure me out, I could figure them out. Help me, help them. It all felt very noble. After several Dr. visits, several medicines, and several tests, the diagnoses was put to paper: OCD (with a little bit of ADHD thrown in for fun).

Most people think of OCD like the television show Monk, a man that obsesses over germs and compulsively performs cleaning rituals as a result. But, that’s not the only flavor of OCD. I don’t have many “compulsions” or rituals. For me, things get stuck in my brain. I can’t shake them. Usually, they are benign or even silly. Sometimes, they cause me to worry- hence the problem. I fear that the side effects of the medicine will return (despite no longer being on medicine!). I fear the anxiety that I felt. I actually fear fear. Because my OCD is “somatic” I inadvertently create the dread that I’m trying so hard to avoid. It’s irrational, and I know it. But, that’s what makes OCD so cruel. And, I was right about my kids- Unlike general anxiety disorders, OCD is commonly a genetic gift (yay! #sarcasm).

I recently learned that some scholars believe that one my favorite figures in church history, Martin Luther, may have also suffered from a type of OCD call scrupulosity. Some of his obsessions were…strange? During prayer, he would often get an image of Satan’s backside (read: butt) stuck in his head and it became a sincere annoyance. While somewhat trivial, Luther’s other obsessions about how a man becomes right with God led ultimately to the Protestant Reformation. Did God use the OCD of an Augustinian monk to spark revival? This thought breathes joy into my bones. Our God is so sovereign, so omnipotent, so wise that he can use our “mental health issues” for his glory.

The fact is I have OCD, OCD does not have me. As Charles Spurgeon so eloquently put it, “What man is altogether sane?”  Dr. Mike Emlet, physician turned Biblical counselor, writes in Descriptions and Prescriptions that ultimately we’re all on a spectrum. But no matter where we fall on that spectrum the biblical invitation is the same for everyone: Rest in King Jesus. The promise that Paul gives us is that the peace of God will guard our hearts and minds (emphasis on the mind). I don’t think we can just “pray away” every struggle we face. But I do believe the promises of God. I believe that he will hold me fast. I believe that he will provide either healing or grace sufficient for my needs. I believe that I can take every fear and every worry and every anxiety (even the irrational ones) to the cross. I believe he is sovereign and good and wise. So, while the world may see OCD as something that needs to be healed, God sees OCD as a means to bring a worldwide revival that we still benefit from to this day.

OCD is my struggle. What’s yours? Regardless, the promises of God are sure. So whatever your flavor of anxiety, let your requests be made known to God with prayer and thanksgiving and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding (all explanation), will (not might) guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. All who are weary, all who have OCD, GAD, ADD, ADHD or whatever else… come to Christ and He will give you rest. Your struggles do not preclude you from his promises. Indeed, his promises extend especially to you.

But seriously, Antioch, can we not line up the light with the pulpit?

SDG,

Pastor Matthew

 

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