by Charles Bertelsmeier
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Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever (Psalm 118:1).
Many years ago, when I was a child, the family practice at each of our main meals was to say grace at the beginning and return thanks at the end. Grace was a prayer of blessing on the meal, and in most households where this was practised, it was a standard prayer that everyone present said in unison. At the end of the meal, no-one could leave the table until we returned thanks. Like the grace prayer, this was also a customary prayer said in unison by everyone present. In our household, it was the words of the above verse (but from an older translation of the Bible).
Today, the saying of these prayers has fallen out of practice. Although, Christians will almost always ask for a blessing on the meal (usually ad-libbed) when eating together. But it has been a long time since I heard anyone formally thank God for a meal at its completion (but we usually do thank God for the meal when we ask for a blessing before eating).
With our busy and generally affluent lives, it is easy to adopt the attitude that we have everything under control. We work hard to earn money to purchase the things we need to live a healthy and happy life. However, some of the things that have been happening over the last few years (unprecedented bushfires and floods, COVID, Russia’s war on Ukraine) may be making us think about how fragile our existence on this planet is. We exist by God’s love, grace and mercy, and it is good to be reminding ourselves regularly of this and be very thankful to God for the way he is looking after us.
When God was forming the nation of Israel in the desert after they escaped from Egypt, one of the things he initiated was a set of regular festivals (Passover, Day of Atonement, Feast of Tabernacles, First Fruits, Pentecost and Feast of Trumpets). These were to remind the Israelites of God’s blessings on them. We, too, can benefit from developing routines in life that regularly remind us we are dependent on God for our health, food, shelter, companionship, recreation and the other blessings he showers on us.
Think about the events in your life that have caused you to stop and consider what you control. Where do you have to trust in God’s love for you to live the way you do? How have you been motivated to share these blessings with others?
Heavenly Father, we must apologise that we so often take the credit for somehow achieving the blessings that are really from you. Thank you for regularly reminding us of our fragility in this world and that we live and enjoy life by your love, grace and mercy. In Jesus’ name. Amen.