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Groundhog Day and Super Bowl LIV: Predictions and the plan of God

Dr. Jim Denison is the CEO of Denison Forum.
His Daily Article and podcast globally reach over 160,000 subscribers. Dr. Denison guides readers to discern today’s news—biblically. He is the author of multiple books and has taught on the philosophy of religion and apologetics at several seminaries. Prior to launching Denison Forum in 2009, he pastored churches in Texas and Georgia. He holds a Ph.D and a Master of Divinity from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Jim and his wife, Janet, live in Dallas, Texas. They have two sons and four grandchildren.

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Punxsutawney Phil emerged from his burrow yesterday morning around 7:25 a.m. EST and did not see his shadow. This means that we will have an early spring.

Except that, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Phil has been right only 40 percent of the time over the last ten years.

Perhaps a robot could do Phil’s job more effectively. That’s the suggestion of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which is concerned for Phil’s health and wellbeing.

Whether Phil should stay in the forecasting business or not, it is worth noting that since his first prediction in 1887, he has forecast an early spring only nineteen times before yesterday.

Unfortunately for Phil, the country was far less focused yesterday on his shadow (or lack thereof) than on the pending Super Bowl. As you know, the favored Kansas City Chiefs defeated the San Francisco 49ers by a score of 31 to 20.

The fact that the favorite won was a bit surprising, actually. The underdog has won twenty-three of the past fifty-three Super Bowls, including five straight from 2012 through 2016.

So, if you’re looking for a way to predict future Super Bowls, it may be that Punxsutawney Phil can help.

The Super Bowl has fallen on Groundhog Day only once before, in 2014. That year, Phil predicted a long winter, and the underdog Seattle Seahawks won big, 43 to 8 over the favored Denver Broncos. This might suggest that since Phil predicted an early spring yesterday, the favored Chiefs should have won, which they did.

So, we may have discovered a pattern upon which to base future Super Bowl predictions: when Phil predicts a long winter, pick the underdog; when he predicts an early spring, pick the favorite.

Except that we have only two such predictions to base our pattern upon.

And there’s another problem: if the Super Bowl continues to fall on the first Sunday in February as currently scheduled (the NFL has released dates only through 2023), the game and the groundhog will not meet again until 2025.

Predictions and the plan of God

All this to say, forecasting the future is challenging for football experts and even for Punxsutawney Phil, whose job is making such predictions. If you’re looking for a more reliable way to face the future, I suggest that you turn to the One who sees tomorrow more clearly than we can see today.

God can declare “the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done” (Isaiah 46:10). His word is filled with predictions his providence fulfilled.

Don’t expect him to tell you who will win the next Super Bowl, however. God does not tell us all we would like to know, but he does show us all we need to know. His Spirit will help us “discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2).

Our Father’s will is not a searchlight that shows us our final destination but a flashlight that show us our next step. If we will be in his will today, we can know his will when “tomorrow” becomes today.

Meanwhile, as a wise mentor once taught me, our call is to stay faithful to the last call we heard from God while remaining open to the next.

Are you in your Father’s will today?

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