Once there were people who worshipped the gods. Today, they worship the Odds.

The Odds, we are told, have the power to evolve living cells out of molecules, and men out of amoebas. In fact, serious Odds worshippers believe that if we wait long enough, the Odds can do anything. Literally. Powerful things, the Odds.

The Odds determine who will die, and when. They control the weather, the stock market, whose car will spring a flat tire during rush hour.

Very few areas of our lives are not under the dictatorship of the Odds. We eat the foods that the Odds decree are most healthy for us. We consult the Odds to determine how to invest our money for the best returns. We make periodic gifts to the Odds, to buy ourselves a little peace of mind. We call it insurance.

We study the Odds, analyze their behavior, to help us gain a measure of control and understanding of our world. We trust the Odds. The Odds declare that I can go to sleep at night, full of faith that I will wake to find the sun rising in the east, and my slippers lying at the foot of my bed where I left them last night. I'm not going to find Jupiter ascending majestically across the sky and my slippers replaced by neat piles of gold. The Odds of getting my paycheck on time each month — relatively good. Winning the lottery — highly unlikely. The universe merrily chugs along with the Odds in charge, their dominion over our lives rarely questioned.

But sometimes events happen that challenge our faith in the Odds. We suffer setbacks or heartbreaking losses, completely unpredicted by the Odds. Fortunately, the reverse happens as well. Just when we thought we were doomed, when the Odds had already sealed our fate, we turn an unexpected corner and experience salvation.

It sometimes occurs to us that this universe is far too complex for the Odds alone to have created it. It gets lonely at times, too, believing that the universe is guided by the cold, impersonal and unresponsive forces of the Odds.

We get these thoughts sometimes, but it's hard to mount a serious challenge against the Odds. After all, worship of the Odds is pervasive, and its high priests are quick to shout down and punish anyone who dares suggest that the Odds are not in charge. Believing in the Odds makes sense; it's the rational thing to do, isn't it? Doesn't all the evidence point to the Odds controlling the universe? If there is indeed someone above who is in charge of the Odds, He sure doesn't put in an appearance too often.

The universe makes too much sense for the Odds to be in charge, but too little sense for the Odds not to be in charge. So there's a little battle being fought inside me constantly, between my inner Odds worshipper and my desire to believe in something higher, greater and more meaningful.

There were always those who refused to worship the gods. They don’t worship the Odds, either. In fact, their entire existence is in stubborn defiance of the Odds. The Odds decreed that they should have died out long ago, been swallowed up by surrounding nations and society. In open revolt against the Odds, they tenaciously clung to their distinct culture, practices and beliefs.

These people had the strength to overcome the Odds, simply because they never believed in them from the start. They always put their faith in a Higher Power that drives and controls the Odds. A Power that, at times, chooses to overturn the Odds altogether.

Still, I have a question to ask the Power Above the Odds. Yes, I've been playing Beat the Odds all my life, and for most of my history. I've even been winning, for the most part. But why must this battle continue? I'm getting tired of the game. It was fascinating for a while, watching You machinate the universe behind the clever disguise of the Odds. You have peeked out just often enough and subtly enough to keep the game interesting. But we've had enough. Beating the Odds is no fun anymore, not if it means that we can't see You.

"Arise and have mercy on Zion, for it is time to be gracious to her; the appointed time has come."