Thank the hand that feeds us

Published 7:30 am Sunday, November 27, 2022

“God is great. God is good. Let us thank Him for our food.” Little children are often taught to say this prayer before meals.

Whether you call it “saying grace” or “returning thanks,” the prayer recognizes two wonderful characteristics of God. Truly, God is great and good. In the Psalms we read, “Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom” and “Give thanks to the Lord for He is good; His love endures forever” (Psalm 145:3 and 107:1).

But in our hunger and haste, do we really give God thanks for the foot we eat? “Amen, dive in,” I’ve heard people say that three-word prayer hurriedly.

Do we take for granted the nourishment that keeps us alive? Maybe it’s because our money buys groceries from stores whose shelves are stocked with food. We can purchase meals at all kinds of restaurants.

So why should God be thanked for giving us food? He created the earth with seeds that farmers could plant to grow crops. God deserves our thanks for the abundance of those crops.

God has plenty of experience in feeding people. In the Old Testament, when the nation of Israel wandered in the desert for 40 years, God gave them manna to eat every day.

In the New Testament, Jesus set an example for us. Matthew 15:36 says Jesus “took seven loaves and the fishes, and gave thanks.” Miraculously, more than 4,000 people were fed and there was food left over.

Thanking God for our food should not be just a repetitive tradition. It should be an attitude of gratitude. Thanking Him acknowledges our dependence on Him. We need to recognize His greatness and goodness to us, especially in a country where food is plentiful for most people.

Many years ago, my grandmother took a sight-seeing trip to countries half way around the world. Her travel diary, given to me, records her thoughts. She wrote, “We take for granted our way of life, but all of us are rich according to these people’s standards.  Never have I seen such poverty.

“How privileged I am to be an American. These poor people in those faraway places with strange-sounding names are trapped in a situation they can never escape from. There are two classes (of people) in the world they can never escape from. There are two classes (of people) in the world – the haves and the have nots. We are among the haves.”

When you taste the goodness of God, you must praise Him. At times, I’ve heard people sing the Doxology as a way of saying grace musically. The hymn, “Great is The Faithfulness,” says, “All I have needed thy hand hath provided.

There’s more to that child’s prayer before meals. It also says, “By His hands we are fed.  Thank you, Lord, for daily bread. Amen.”

— Jan White has compiled a collection of her columns in her book, “Everyday Faith for Daily Life.”