This past week was Thanksgiving so naturally I was thinking about giving thanks. Have you ever wondered – why do we give thanks to God for our food at the dinner table? I remember one Thanksgiving I said the blessing and gave thanks to God for the food and after we said Amen, my grandma said something like “and thank Grandma for cooking it!”
Surely we should thank God for the grandmas and others who prepare the meals, but why food? Why is eating the activity we are most likely to engage in regular prayers of thanks to God? Here’s how my thinking went on Thursday morning…
Thank you God for the turkey…but I bought the turkey, it didn’t just show up here. Thank you God for the money to buy the turkey. But I didn’t just have the money- I got the money from my job. Thank you God for my job. But the job doesn’t just pay me for nothing, employers pay for the knowledge, skills, and abilities of their workers. Nobody is born with any of those. As the bumper sticker goes, if you can read – thank a teacher. In reality each link in the chain to the turkey has dozens (maybe hundreds) of branches. Behind that thank you is a thankfulness for the turkey farmer, the turkey food, the equipment and all the people who make and maintain those things, all the infrastructure required to get these things to my table. Amazing!
But getting back to skills and abilities – everything that we have, everything that we have ever learned, or have been able to do – everything has come from somewhere else all the way back through history. Your abilities and talents and skills are gifts to you. And when one recognizes a gift, it’s customary and right to say thank you to the giver. Acknowledging God as the ultimate provider for something like a meal is an important reminder of how he holds all things together. It doesn’t diminish Grandma’s hard work; Grandma’s hard work and everything that makes it possible gives us even more reasons to be thankful to God.