Sometimes we know it.
We know it when we are losing our job and the baby is teething and it's fifteen degrees below zero and the babysitter cancels and the hot water heater breaks and the car won't start and our best friend's husband is leaving her.
And, although when things are going relatively well, we quickly forget, life is still impossible then, too.
There's a lot more that we can't control than we can.
We can't control our bodies. Our physical systems depend heavily on one another in ways we never see.
We can't control our relationships. The people we love do what they will without our permission.
We can't control our surroundings. Our comfort depends on complex agencies and services like transportation, power, and waste treatment over which we have no say or most of the time, any awareness at all.
We can't control our safety. Our security depends on men and women who guard us both locally and internationally whom we never even see unless something goes wrong.
These kinds of things fail so rarely that we have no idea what it is like to be truly alone, truly hungry, truly without resources, and we never will.
We kid ourselves about this every day.
When the house is clean and my family is content, and the bills are paid, and the snow shoveled, and the laundry done, and the boss is happy, I think I've done well. I am capable. I have used my intelligence and skill profitably. And I have, as far as they go.
But I have forgotten what I cannot accomplish.
I can't make my heart beat.
I can't stop a random bomber.
I can't deter the lethal work of a drunk driver.
I can't stop my friend from cheating on her husband.
I can't even guarantee that my groceries are free from taint or poison.
All these are completely beyond my control.
I keep forgetting that I do not bear up the world.
In fact, I must fail to do so.
I must learn that if I fall, the world will not, and fall I must if I am to come to understand even a part of God's power and love.
Yes, I am desolate when life spins out of my control, but that is when the clarity of my place in the world comes most vividly.
And good thing, too.
God holds the world in His hands. I cannot hold the world. I can only hold God.
For the Lord is a great God, and a great king above all gods. In His hands are the corners of the world and the strength of the hills is His also. The sea is His and He made it and His hands prepared the dry land. O come, let us worship and fall down and kneel before the Lord our Maker. For He is the Lord our God. We are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand.--Psalm 95: 3-7