Today is Groundhog Day, 2014. It’s been a tough winter and I’m sure that people around the country, especially in the midwest, are looking forward to winter being over. In our neck of the woods, we are far above the average for seasonal snowfall and the local government has admitted that more than 70% of the budget for snow removal has already been spent. We’re tired of the snow and anxiously waiting for spring.
But today, Phil, the groundhog in Punxatowney, PA saw his shadow at 7:25 this morning – signifying that we will have another 6 weeks of winter. Phil’s not new at this prediction. He, and his ancestors, have been predicting the onset of spring since 1886, although this is the first time that Groundhog Day and the Super Bowl occurred on the same day.
The date of Feb. 2 has to do with the celebration of Candlemas, a memorial of the time in the Christian calendar when Christmas was celebrated for 40 days, ending on Feb. 2nd. Also, in early times, the day marked the halfway point between the shortest day of the year and the beginning of the spring. So you can tell that Feb. 2 was an important date on so many fronts. However, let’s not forget the news of the day – 6 more weeks of winter!
Whether that actually happens or not, it sure seems like we have already had bad weather for longer than in prior winters. And by all accounts, there is more on the way. What can we do about all this? Well, the Bible gives us great advice from Paul, one of the people in the Bible who faced more adversity than most of us ever will. In fact, in 2 Cor. 11:23-28, he tells us, “I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.”
Sounds a little worse than 6 more weeks of winter, doesn’t it? Tonight’s verse is also from Paul, in his letter to the Philippians. He lets us know the source of his strength and how he endured all the hardships he encountered in his life. in Phil 4:12-13, he tells us, “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”
My encouragement this evening is that God can give you the same strength that He gave Paul. Just ask for it. My prayer is that you will endure with grace and perseverance. Compared to what Paul went through, most of our lives are relatively calm. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…