Groundhog Day was my great-grandmother Loflin’s favorite holiday. I have no idea why she was so fascinated with this day. It’s really not a holiday at all, but rather a celebration. I do remember vividly how excited Grandma Loflin would be to find out Punxsutawney Phil’s prediction for the end of winter. Ironically, she died on Groundhog Day 1963. After all these years, the arrival of February 2nd always makes me think of her.
In 1993, the movie Groundhog Day was made starring Bill Murray. As soon as I heard of it, my interest was piqued and it quickly became one of my favorites. I love watching Murray’s character, Phil Connors, transform from a selfish, womanizer into a warm, caring individual.
Against his opposition, Connors is assigned to cover the annual Groundhog Day festivities in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. A major snowstorm forces the crew to spend another night in the small town. Connors awakens to find that it is again Groundhog Day. He is forced to relive Groundhog Day repeatedly, with seemingly no end. He reacts initially with anger, violence, and even by committing suicide, only to reawaken to yet another Groundhog Day celebration.
Eventually Connors stops fighting his new reality and begins to change. He uses each new Groundhog Day to learn more about the members of his news team and to fall in love with the people of Punxsutawney. He becomes the polar opposite of what he had been. He genuinely cares for people and goes out of his way to help others. In fact, by the end, he is the most loved man in town.
The transformation of Phil Connors in Groundhog Day parallels the changes Christians undergo as God works to shape their lives in accordance with His Word and His plans for their lives. Removing negative qualities and replacing them with godly characteristics is the goal of the purification process God sends our way through tests and trials. In the book of James we are told, “the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:3, 4) And in Romans 5: 3, 4 we read “suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”
Phil Connors went through a time of suffering and testing to become a man he was meant to be. God brings trials and tests to our lives to help us become the people he wants us to be. If we fail the test, He brings another one our way. As we pass each test, we become more mature and take another step toward completion. The trials refine our character and increase our hope in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.
It took Phil Connors a long time to grow and mature into a warm, caring man. I pray that I respond to God much more quickly and that I allow the trials God sends my way to refine and purify me.