Or, when we want something desperately, we pray and beg and bribe God with promises of fidelity, assuming that God wants us to have what we want for ourselves. In relationships, in sports, even in war, we tend to assume that God is on our side and will protect us and lead us to what we consider victory.I don’t know about you, but I am constantly surprised and humbled by the errors of my assumptions about how God will work in my life and in the world. I have seen disasters become blessings, and blessings become disaster. I have given up on God, only to find that God has not given up on me. It may be the most difficult lesson I’ve had to learn in my life — that I am not in control, and that my attempts to wrest control from God usually only results in more grief.”Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God,” the Apostle Paul writes to the church at Rome in today’s second reading. “How inscrutable are his judgments and how unsearchable his ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord or who has been his counselor? Or who has given the Lord anything that he may be repaid?”We need to have the humility to admit that we don’t really know how God is at work in our lives — and in the lives of others. We are better off assuming that God is always with us, whether we are feeling comfortable or not.Paul points out that we really don’t know how God works. God’s ways are “inscrutable,” and we are not invited to be God’s advisor. God doesn’t owe us anything. In other words, we are not in control, and while we can see how God has worked in the past we are given no guarantees that God will work in the same way in the future. It’s a tough lesson to learn — when someone we love rejects or betrays us, or when illness afflicts us or those we love, or when we face financial or job loss. When these things have happened to me, I assume some power beyond God is at work, and that I must fight to regain some semblance of control. Often, I see later that God was guiding me all along; I just wasn’t cooperating.It’s really good news, of course, that God is in control and we are not. If I were able to control God, I would want Him to be like a magic genie who will grant my every wish, mostly for my own success and comfort.We need to have the humility to admit that we don’t really know how God is at work in our lives — and in the lives of others. We are better off assuming that God is always with us, whether we are feeling comfortable or not. I enjoy my life much more when I ask, “Why is this happening?” because I really want to know the answer.Bill Peatman writes from Napa. He may be reached at [email protected].