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 that the deaths of today, no matter how painful, are worth the true life God will produce for them tomorrow.
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.
Go Deeper — Consider what crosses you face each day: afflictions; choices to do the hard thing because it’s right; sacrificing time, or money, or comfort for the sake of another; loss of reputation because of an identification with Christ... What would it look like to take up that cross? How might God use it to produce eternal fruit?
Photo Credit: Bruno van der Kraan