I was talking to a recovering addict the other day who has some long-term sobriety, but is now struggling again. I asked him to tell me about the G‑d of his understanding.

"Kind, compassionate, forgiving, all-knowing," he told me. "What about in control?" I asked.

I told him that for me (just me, forget that I'm the Rabbi for a minute), the first and most important quality I must attribute to the G‑d of my understanding is that He is in control. Kind, compassionate, forgiving and all-knowing will not keep me sober. I have to know that G‑d is in absolute control.

If I weren't an alcoholic, I might be happy with a caring G‑d. But caring doesn't cut it for me. What good is it to be cared for by a G‑d who is wimpy and incompetent? At least for me, that doesn't do much for my serenity. "G‑d loves you" won't keep me from crumbling under the pressures of reality, but "G‑d is in control" will.

When I speak about control, I am not talking about G‑d controlling me. My free choice is the only thing to credit or to blame for my actions. I am talking about G‑d's control of the universe.

We do not live in a chaotic universe. G‑d is perpetually re-creating the world; He creates something from absolute nothing every single second. He is putting everything just where He wants it. Nothing escapes His attention; no detail is neglected. The world is constantly being guided and cared for.

That kind of control is what the Baal Shem Tov taught us when he explained how G‑d's providence extends even to a little leaf falling from a tree. When I start to forget that it's all from G‑d, I get resentful and scared. When I remember that it's all going according to plan, I feel serenity.

The situation may not be to our liking, but it's all perfectly under control!