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Father, we thank you for this food which you have provided. We thank you for our home, and for all of the many ways you have watched over us this day.
Several times each day my wife and I have cause to pray for and with our children. Many of these prayers are simple and heart felt prayers of gratitude. We are alive and well, kept safe, well fed and housed, growing and learning, rich in relationships and friends. God has been merciful and has taken care of and sustained us yet another day.
But how it is that God has taken care of us? The food didn’t just plop down from heaven onto our table. Our clothes didn’t just miraculously appear on our backs. We were not transported directly from home to office. No! God sustains and cares for and nurtures his creatures usually through secondary means – through the “laws of nature” and through the agency of his creatures. That is, He uses His creatures to care for and nourish His creatures. He uses His creatures’ work to take care of His creation.
The broccoli we ate tonight was grown by some farmer somewhere and transported by truck drivers to a store, whose employees laid it out in a clean and attractive display, and sold it to me for a reasonable price. Someone built the display, manufactured the cool mist spray that keeps the vegetables moist and fresh, and made and sold the refrigerant that keeps the fruit and veggie department so cold. Some bank loaned money to the owner of the store so he could get his business up and running in my neighborhood, which meant that some banker sat down and talked face to face with some store owner.
The broccoli was heated and cooked in a pot made by someone, and sold by someone to a store where we bought it. Of course, we took a car to the store to buy the pot, and drove safely on good tires made from oil obtained from somewhere. The roads were level, well lit, and safe to travel. The rain washed off the roads into storm drains, keeping us from sliding around and having an accident. Who wrote the computer program that controlled the traffic lights? Who arranged the contract between the city and the road crew that paved the road? What government official made sure that safety regulations were being met when the road was laid out in the first place? Who made the signs, the light bulbs in the traffic lights, the wire carrying the signals to the switches?
As I ate my broccoli, I was warm and comfortable, as were my wife and kids. Shoes, socks, undergarments, pants, shirts—all from somewhere, maybe even far away. Our house, heated by a gas furnace, was comfortable and cozy. Who grew the cotton in my jeans? Who dug the iron ore, who made the steel, who cut and bent the steel and wrapped it in insulation for the duct work in my attic? Who loaned the money to the local heating company to start his business? Who made his tools? Who traveled around and sold these tools to the retail outlets that sold the tools to the installer who put in my gas furnace? And what person kept the books for the heating company that sold me my furnace? Who answered the phone when I called, and got me in touch with the sales person? Who kept that office organized and equipped and running smoothly so that I could be well served when I called with an inquiry?
The water I drank tonight with my broccoli came from a nearby lake through a series of concrete and PVC pipes into my house. Someone made sure the water quality was acceptable. Someone somewhere worked hard to make sure the watershed wasn’t over developed, so that my family and I could have clean water to drink.
As we prayed tonight, the thought came to me: Who taught us to pray? Who told us about this God to Whom we give thanks? Who told us about the Lord Jesus Christ, that we could have access to this Creator God, and have peace of heart and mind?
So intricately connected and intertwined are we, that many, if not most of you reading this article have had some role in providing for my needs, and certainly a role in providing for the needs of others. God is using your work to take care of His creation. God is including you in his ministry of sustaining and preserving His creation. So when I and many others thanked God tonight, you were included in our thanksgiving. Your work matters. It has kept me and my family safe and well fed and clothed, warm and comfortable, just as we prayed.
Written by Joel Gillespie. Photo by Magnet-me on Unsplash Used by permission. Content distributed by WorkLife.org > Used for non-profit teaching purposes only.