None of us likes to be helpless. All of us like to have at least some degree of control over our lives. For some, it goes further than that: they like to keep tabs on everything that's going on, and - wherever possible - to manipulate their reality so that nothing escapes their grasp. We call these people control freaks, and while most of us don't go to quite these lengths, it's rare to find someone who is completely free of control-freakery. As I said, we don't like to be helpless.

But sometimes we are: when we're infants, dependent on parental nurture and protection; and when we're old, and the things we can do for ourselves are increasingly restricted. When we're born and when we die. And in between, there will be times of helplessness - especially through illness or disability - when we face a choice. Be consumed with rage or self-pity because we're no longer in control - or come to accept that being helpless offers us the opportunity to learn something important about being human.

And what might that learning be? Maybe something like this: we need others, and we need God. We are not, ultimately, self-sufficient; and sometimes we don't get to pick and choose how the help we need comes to us. Sometimes all we can do is accept our insufficiency, and be grateful when, once again, we get the message that we are not forgotten, our voice is heard, help is coming.