by Lt. Colonel Paul Smith
Assistant Chief Secretary

February can be a rough month. It’s cold and cloudy, and snow and ice can make driving or walking treacherous. I catch myself thinking: “Will winter ever end?”

I grew up in western Pennsylvania, so every Groundhog Day, I would anxiously hope to hear that Punxsutawney Phil didn’t see his shadow so that spring would be just around the corner instead of seven weeks away.

Because of the 1993 Bill Murray movie where he repeats February 2 over and over, Groundhog Day is now synonymous with a monotonous, unpleasant, repetitive situation (Wikipedia). Not surprisingly, I’ve heard some people refer to the COVID-19 pandemic as a two-year long Groundhog Day, which leaves their expectations for the future jaded. Unfortunately, they’ve come to expect their tomorrow will be just as dismal as their today has been.

However, we have hope that tomorrow can be better because God remains faithful; His love and compassion are renewed every day (Lam. 3:22-23).

Many people have observed and have even documented the value of a good attitude in approaching a task or a new day. For instance, renown motivational author and speaker Brian Tracy wrote, “You cannot control what happens to you, but you can control your attitude toward what happens to you, and in that, you will be mastering change rather than allowing it to master you.”

Health experts point to benefits associated with a positive attitude, including:

• Better heart health
• An active, curious mind
• Increased productivity at work
• Overcoming obstacles becomes easier
• Better relationships and social life
• Better recovery process

How do we escape just another Groundhog Day? It isn’t by copying the “I think I can” approach of The Little Engine That Could but by asking God to give us Christ’s attitude of selfless humility and concern for others as Paul urged both the Philippians (2:5) and the Romans (15:5-6). My attitude becomes decidedly more positive when I choose to focus on God—His presence, love and grace—and the needs of the people around me rather than on my circumstances.

My morning devotional includes a prayer which complements each day’s Bible reading. I share one here that is my prayer for each of us who daily hunger to be more like Jesus:

“Gracious God, we praise you for your life-giving presence in our lives. May our actions, reactions, and attitudes exult you this day and, in the days, to come. In loving adoration. Amen.”

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