Thank You For Our Food

Tyson Foods took out full-page ads in The New York Times, The Washington Post and the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette to warn the country that “the food supply chain is breaking.” Plant closures due to the coronavirus are causing backups on farms, and “millions of animals – chickens, pigs and cattle – will be depopulated because of the closure of our processing facilities.”

While I’m sure board chairman John Tyson has his company’s best interests in mind, his plea sounds a primal alarm. A shortage of toilet paper or Clorox wipes is one thing, but cut off a country’s food supply and, well, I don’t even want to think about the desperation and chaos that would ensue.

Which leads to this question: How truly thankful to God are we for our food?

I grew up pretty much oblivious to the connection between farm and grocery store. Oh, I knew that ground needed to be plowed, seed had to be planted, rain had to fall, and the crop had to be harvested and trucked to market. And I knew that eggs didn’t come from eggplant and bacon didn’t grow evenly sliced (I’m so old I remember my mother standing a bacon slab on end and carving it with a butcher knife).

But with store shelves and freezers always stocked full of food, and with our table always abundantly supplied, it was easy to lose sight of the connection between our refrigerator, Winn Dixie and God.

Yet Paul struck a chord with the Lystrans (albeit temporarily) when he proclaimed: “(God) ‘did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good, gave us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.’ And with these sayings they could scarcely restrain the multitudes from sacrificing to them” (Acts 14:17-18). I don’t know if there is a backstory here, but the message of a living deity who had blessed them resonated with these pagans.

Unlike some animals that can go for months without eating, humans can get pretty “hangry” if they don’t eat about three meals a day. The Bible doesn’t say why God made us so dependent on regular nourishment, but I suspect it has something to do with keeping our connection with Him intact. Paul reminds us that “every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving; for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer” (I Tim. 4:4-5).

That is, God wants us to continually connect our plate not with the crop or the chicken or the cow but with the Creator who specially endowed this planet with life-sustaining properties. “For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things” (Matt. 6:32).

And maybe that is why God at various times in history brought famine to bear upon those who had forgotten Him (I Kings 17; II Kings 8; II Chronic. 6:26-31; etc.). While we retain some vestiges of religious awareness, we are in the main a nation that has rejected God intellectually and morally. Let us pray for those who supply our food and thank God for His generous sustenance, lest we are reminded through the rigors of famine how desperately we need Him.