The name Matthew Henry may not mean anything to many who read these words. In the New International Dictionary of the Christian Church his life is summed up on two words: Biblical expositor.

He was born in 1662, the son of a Church of England minister. During his life he pastored several churches and also wrote a number of important works. His six-volume commentary on the Bible remains in print today. He kept a diary which also survives to the present. In it he records his thoughts after being robbed by thieves:

"Let me be thankful first, because I was never robbed before; second, because although they took my purse, they did not take my life; third, because, although they took my all, it was not much; and fourth, because it was I who was robbed, not I who robbed."

Sometimes we wonder how it is possible to truly obey the command of scripture to give thanks in everything (1 Thessalonians 5:18). So many things that happen to us for which it is hard to find a positive note.

Once again Thanksgiving Day has arrived. For some of us this has been a banner year, a time of great personal triumph, a year in which we seemed to go from victory to victory. For others, the past twelve months have brought unexpected heartache, unforeseen difficulty and unwanted grief. If we went from person to person today, each would tell a different story of the last year.

So how shall we give thanks this year? Some need no instruction — you need to know when to stop. God bless you if that is the case. But others of us would do well to reread the words of the venerable Matthew Henry.

If nothing else comes to mind, we can always thank God that we are still alive and reasonably well after all that has happened. Sometimes the greatest blessing is to still be standing at the end of the fight.

If we have been wronged this year (and who hasn't been wronged somewhere along the way?), we can thank God that we were wronged rather than being the ones who did the wrong.

In that way, in all things and for every reason, we can give thanks to God and have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day.

You can reach the author at ray@keepbelieving.com. Click here to sign up for the free weekly email sermon.

Publication date: November 25, 2010

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