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Give us this day . . .
Photo: Linda DuBose
Before I start any meal, I always say a prayer, thanking God for my food. It seems like a little thing. Some of my friends are amused by my habit. It is not a trivial activity, however brief my words. Food is one of God’s greatest gifts. It is also a gift, not a right. We forget that—at our peril.

Make no mistake—there is an abundance of food in the world today. Virtually every famine that has visited the world in the last 100 years is the result of the acts of man, not an act of God. Foolish public policy or deliberate government intervention created food shortages more than crop failure or drought. Even during the worst years of the Dust Bowl, in the 1930s, the United States was producing more food than it consumed.

Today, in countries like the United States, the issue is not whether someone will get enough to eat. It is whether they are eating the right foods or whether the quality of the food that is being eaten is high enough. It is easy to forget that it has not always been so. When muscle, current, and wind were the only way that goods could be moved, famine was a constant worry. One bad harvest meant hunger in the following year. Two or more years of crop failure mean starvation was inevitable.

Availability of Food

The Bible is filled with examples underscoring the importance of the availability of food. In Genesis 41, Joseph interprets Pharaoh’s dream of seven sleek and seven scrawny cattle as prophesies of years of abundant and scarce food. In Exodus 16, the starving Israelites are fed manna provided by the Lord God. Many of Christ’s miracles are centered on food. In his first miracle, He changes water into wine.  He fed the multitudes with five loaves of bread and two fish. In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus instructs us to ask God to “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11).

Even today men cannot make food grow. We can only encourage its growth. That plants grow and are fruitful, that the animals we have grow and provide us with meat is an everyday miracle. It is fostered by the earth on which we live, and the sun around which we orbit, both gifts from God.

It would not take much to change the balance from the global abundance we now enjoy to global scarcity. When the world cooled down following the eleventh century, it led to declining harvests worldwide—contributing to the conditions that caused the Black Death in the fourteenth century. When people were closer to nature than we are today they were more aware of this balance. The understanding of how fortunate we are to have an abundance of food is the reason for fall harvest festivals, and holidays like Thanksgiving.

But thanking God for the food we are granted should not be an annual event. It should be done every day, whenever we sit down to eat.

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By Mark Lardas. Copyright © 2008 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scripture taken from the NEW KING JAMES VERSION © 1982.

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