Count all your blessings says Fr Alvan

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Count all your blessings says Fr Alvan

In the latest in his Voice of Hope series, Fr Alvan Ibeh asks “When should I be grateful to God”?

For a few weeks now, in all our different parishes we have been looking at the ten questions as our diocese joins dioceses all over the world to embark on the Synodal Pathway in preparation for the Synod of Bishops in 2023. I have found those questions, so far, to be very reflective and thought-provoking. So I will encourage you to join in, if you have not yet done so.

One of the questions led me to reflect on the above topic. Question number 4(d) says, “When I pray, for what do I give thanks to God? – and what do I ask of Him?” While reflecting on this question, another question came up; “When should we give thanks to God?” Ordinarily, we only thank someone when we have received something from them, be it a favour done to us or a material gift.

Imagine you are walking on the street one morning and someone you had never met before just said “thank you very much” to you. What will be your reaction? I guess you will be puzzled, right? The usual thing is to give thanks and be grateful when we have received something from someone, and for someone to start expressing gratitude when you know you did nothing for the person may be embarrassing.

The same thing happens in our relationship with God. When we pray, we give thanks to Him for all the favours we have received from Him: for the healing, we have received, for saving us from one situation or the other, for restoring peace and harmony in our family, name them. We sometimes forget to thank Him for most things we received from Him.

Just reflect, and you will remember there was a time you prayed earnestly for something; you even made a promise to God to thank Him, especially if he answered your prayer. When you received what you asked for, you forgot to thank God for the answered prayer. I know I must have done this numerous times. But should we thank God or be grateful to Him only when He responded to our prayers or received favour from Him. Should we only be thankful to Him because we enjoy good health, and then we see ourselves as more blessed and loved than those battling ill health?

So what if we happen to find ourselves in the same sick health situation? Are we still going to be grateful to Him, or will our attitude change? What if we prayed for a favour from God and didn’t receive it? Should we still be thankful to Him even though we feel disappointed but not know He always has better plans for us? 

So when exactly should we thank God or express our gratitude to Him? Should there ever be a limit to our thanksgiving and praise to God? The psalmist in Psalm 34:1 says, “I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall  continually be in my mouth”.

Our brother, King David, is saying to us that our praising, thanking, extolling and blessing God should be in and out of season: every minute, every second, every hour; morning, afternoon, evening, night; from January to December; whether good or bad, in sickness and in health, no matter the situation, we must praise the Lord and give thanks to Him. If you have not seen anything tangible to thank God for, thank Him for the life you have.

Even if it seems like nothing is working for you at the moment, you have your life at least, and once there is life, in God, there is hope, everything gets better with time and don’t forget this African saying: “a living goat is better than a dead lion”. That is why Psalm 150:6 says, “Let everything that has breath of life praise the Lord!”

Life is the greatest gift we have received from God, and He gives us this gift every day of our lives as long as we sleep and wake up. So do you see why it won’t be abnormal to thank and praise Him at all times?

In 2022, let us all develop an attitude of gratitude. According to Mark Pettit in his article titled, Five ways to develop an attitude of gratitude, attitude of gratitude means making it a conscious habit to express thankfulness and appreciation for every part of your life. Therefore, gratitude to God should be part and parcel of our everyday life. I should always feel incomplete every day I wake up in the morning and leave my room without saying, “thank you God for giving me another precious gift today.” 

So dear friend, let us learn to thank God in every situation we find ourselves trusting that He knows everything about us and has better plans for us than we think we know. Our brother in faith, St Paul, advises us in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” So instead of wasting your energy complaining about the things we think we don’t have, let us focus on the things we have and always give thanks for them, trusting in God, as the song says.

“Count your blessings name them one by one. Count your blessings, see what the Lord has done. Count your blessings, name them one by one, and it will surprise you what the Lord has done.”

Till the next voice of hope series, remain blessed and share with me your thoughts at

Click below to complete the Diocese of East Anglia Synodal Pathway Survey, before March 8.

Synodal Pathway