“And he said to all, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.’ Luke 9:23
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder has been part of my life since I was ten, like constant static from a white noise machine.
The noise frequently rises in the form of profane phrases or images that intrude on my thoughts like a droning siren. It drives me to compulsive prayer that quickly dissolves into an empty incantation. I find myself repeating the same pleas until the anxiety sparked by the unwanted intrusion fades. The problem is that this usually strengthens the original intrusion. It’s like trying to not think about something. Inevitably, you do.
I’ve begged God to free me, but I’ve found my OCD to be like Paul’s thorn (2 Corinthians 12:7-10). It’s an affliction through which God displays his grace and power.
OCD forces my reliance upon him. It is the cross I bear. The true antidote to my OCD -sparked anxiety is to abandon myself to his grace to cover even the worst thought and to entrust my anxiety to him rather than capitulating to my compulsions.
Following Jesus means embracing death daily. Your cross may be a different kind of affliction. Maybe it’s a choice to give up something that appears to promise security, comfort, reputation, or control but that is really an illusion that hinders living for God’s Kingdom and purposes.
Following Jesus through these deaths of self-denial and endurance also means embracing resurrection. Countless Christ-followers attest to Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder has been part of my life since I was ten, like constant static from a white noise machine.
Lord Jesus, thank you for your promise that, when we lose our lives for your sake, we gain everything: true security, true comfort, true joy, true acceptance. Grow my willingness to deny myself and follow you through the hard roads of death, whatever they may be each day. Thank you for your presence with me on those roads, and for your resurrection upon which I can place my hope. Amen.
“From eternity to eternity I am God. No one can snatch anyone out of my hand. No one can undo what I have done” Isaiah 43:13 (NLT).
During the years of my husband’s mental illness, I found great comfort in the knowledge that God was in control working out a much greater plan than I could see.
Visiting my husband in a mental hospital always left me emotionally depleted. Before the drive home, I’d put my head on the steering wheel and pray, “Lord Jesus, hold me. Infuse me with Your strength and energy. Give me alertness as I drive home.” Then slowly, I would work my way through heavy traffic, across the Fraser River, and into the Fraser Valley. Just east of the river, beside the freeway was a sign that always cheered me. On a blue background in large white letters were the words: JESUS IS LORD.
If Jesus is Lord, then He is the One in control of my life! That meant that my peculiar life package was not filled with random acts of cruelty but with carefully chosen challenges. I was not at the mercy of inept doctors or some people’s callous remarks or even my own mistakes and failures. I was at the mercy of a loving God who cared for me deeply and who would work all things, even this, together for good (Romans 8:28).
“For the children of God, everything comes directly from their Father’s hand, no matter who or what may have been the agents,” Hannah Withall Smith writes. “There are no second causes for them. All are destined to work for their good.” (1)
Then life doesn’t make sense, we can know that it’s all known to God. No matter what our circumstances, we can know that God is always in control and He is bigger than our circumstances. Even when we can’t see His hand at work, we can trust in His good character and that He is working out a good plan. He changes victims of circumstance into victors in Christ.
“I know that you can do all things,” Job said, “no plan of yours can be thwarted” ( Job 42:2)
As I contemplated these wonderful truths, my spirits lifted and filled my heart with hope. Whatever happened, I would be okay. My future was in loving, capable hands.
I cannot Lord Thy purpose see, yet all is well since ruled by Thee.
(1) Hannah Withall Smith, The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life, (page 146).