I like the Jewish concept of giving thanks before everything. Note the direction here. Thanks before – not after. This is like writing a thank-you note for your birthday present before it is even bought and put in the mail to you. When you give thanks for something before you get it, you are then in a position to actually receive it.
You are proving that you aren’t an animal when you give thanks before your meal. Only animals gobble up their food as soon as they see it. They pay no attention to where it came from. Part of being a human is trying to rise above our animal natures. We like to think we are better than that. We like to think we have self-control.
We often don’t have self-control. We have the illusion of it. We think we are in charge of our lives. Meanwhile, we don’t even have control over our own bodies. The smallest hunger pang makes us rush for a meal. When we go to a buffet we eat three plates instead of one. “I couldn’t help myself” is our battle cry for self-pity. So even those of us who think they are independent really aren’t.
I’d rather be honest about the fact that I’m not in control. Then I want to try to be thankful all the time that I’m not in control. Then I want to work towards harmonizing my desires with God’s desires. When we pray the Lord’s Prayer, we say “Thy will be done,” not “my will be done.” I learned a prayer a long time ago that went like this – “I will to will Thy will.” The idea is that instead of getting what I want, I want to be thankful for what I get. This may seem very passive but it is actually very freeing. It gives up the desire to control outcomes. It gives us new eyes to appreciate what is actually there.