I need reminders through the toughest Seasons–quite a lot of them. Most of all, I need to know that what I’m going through isn’t in vain. We all do. While I know in my heart this is true, it’s still a battle. I can lose focus, emotions are a challenge, and, when an unchanging situation goes on for long enough, you can begin to experience the “groundhog day effect.”
If you’ve never watched the movie Groundhog Day, the plot is as follows: a TV repairman (played by Bill Murray) gets stuck reliving the same day (Groundhog Day) over and over again. Eventually he finds a way to turn it around to his own advantage.
Stargate SG-1 and the Star Trek franchise have used this scenario as well. It’s commonly dubbed “the time loop” or a “temporal loop.”
Stargate SG-1’s episode “Avatar” portrays this repetitive cycle well. The character known as Teal’c becomes stuck in a virtual battle simulation. Every time Teal’c is wounded, he experiences an electric shock. When he dies (virtually) the simulation starts all over again.
Unfortunately, Teal’c isn’t able to turn things around on his own like Bill Murray’s character in Groundhog Day is. Things aren’t looking good for this battle weary warrior whose adrenaline is rising. Fearing that he’ll suffer cardiac arrest and major organ failure, SG-1 works tirelessly for a solution. Finally, fellow teammate Daniel Jackson enters the simulation to help Teal’c beat his hellish “groundhog day.”
Long-term trials can feel very much the same.
One thing that I’ve learned first hand through my own trials is that, more often than not, we can’t turn things around on our own. We often need help getting back up when we’re mentally worn.
As Job found out in his suffering, some of the people closest to us (friends and family) aren’t always the best support. Why? Either they don’t understand, they’re apathetic, or, as Job’s friends did, they judge and assume that you’re doing something wrong. However, Jesus pointed out that sickness and suffering aren’t always the result of a specific sin; sometimes it’s simply for God’s glory.
“As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’ ‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned,’ said Jesus, ‘but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.'” John 9:1-3
While all suffering is a consequence of the fall of mankind, not all suffering is to be viewed as punishment.
Job is a great example of this. He suffered much, yet he was considered to be blameless and upright. Even after everything was taken from him, first his property, then his loved ones, then his health, he still praised God. Check out Job’s full story here.
Likewise, Jeremiah the prophet went through his own battles as well. However, He was born to be an underappreciated messenger of the Lord (Jeremiah 1:5). Nevertheless, he was a super trooper of the faith!
Being too blinded by pride, Jerusalem and Judah became hostile towards this man of God. Many prophets had already been sent to warn and correct God’s chosen people. Their response? They murdered His servants (Jeremiah 2:30). They’d turned away from God to worship idols and were listening to leaders who had broken ties with Him (Jeremiah 5:4-5).
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Now, it was Jeremiah’s turn to relay God’s messages to this unruly bunch. Jeremiah feared for his life, but God informed him that he would be saved and that He would be watching to see that His plan was accomplished (Jeremiah 1:12 – 19). Though Jeremiah had this assurance, it was still quite the ordeal for this sensitive prophet.
For the full “groundhog day effect” read the entire book of Jeremiah. This is a long and challenging book, but it’s amazing to watch his journey with God!
I’m learning that there’s so much more to this prophet and this Book than I realized.
Jeremiah was by nature very introspective. He had his fears and insecurity to contend with, and he was denied many of life’s joys. But he remained faithful to his calling through it all.
While Jeremiah was reproved for his impatience, he took correction. When the Israelites, on the other hand, complained in the desert it was a different story. Their hearts were far from God, they were were set on their own understanding, and they failed to take correction. Forgetting everything that God had done for them, fear and anger got the better of them. So they dug their heels in, and that generation (with the exception of Joshua and Caleb) failed to receive their promised land. (Numbers 32:11-12)
It’s through Jesus that we shall have the victory.
If we acknowledge the Lord wholeheartedly, we will be thrown countless lifelines to keep us steadfast and immovable servants for Him through even our toughest Seasons. Even when time after time, thing after thing seems to go wrong and we’re experiencing our own personal groundhog day, God proves His love to us by remaining faithful. As He did with Job and with Jeremiah, He always gives us the grace we need to make it through each season.
“But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:58 ESV)
In the midst of tough seasons, life can feel like a broken record. However, I know that the Lord won’t let me miss a beat. He’s the prize worth fighting for.