Well, if the sun is shining Thursday, the second of February, we will have six more weeks of winter. The forecaster in this case is the common groundhog, who, when he awakes from his long winter sleep, will be frightened by his own shadow and crawl back into bed. However, if the day is cloudy, you can put away your red flannels because then this modest creature, not being able to see his reflection, will bravely venture forth and winter will immediately end.
Of course, very few, if any, believe this weather prediction. But it seems that other superstitions do affect people more than they realize. Although they do not believe them, they will sometimes conform with them because of a feeling that it might possibly be safer to do so. For this reason you will seldom locate a hotel with a thirteenth floor or room. And it is almost impossible to find a ship with cabin number thirteen. Few people think nothing of a black cat crossing their path and almost everybody takes exceptional notice of a four leaf clover. Most people hate to walk under a ladder. I heard of a television program where they once set up a ladder across the sidewalk and eight of every ten people took the difficult detour through the gutter rather than walk under the ladder. If you are sailing near Japan, a superstitious practice may affect you immensely – Japanese sailors feel much better as they set out on a voyage, if they cross bows with a foreign vessel. And if a collision does result, there are many interesting ways to find drowned bodies. For instance, from France comes the idea that a body can be located by a floating loaf of bread. The Javanese go one better than that and throw a live sheep in the water, believing that it will sink by the corpse. In Norway, they just keep a live cock in the boat with them, fully expecting it to crow as they pass over the body. If and when the remains are found, another irrational practice may take place – the Eskimos in the northern part of Greenland will usually bury a live dog with them, hoping that since a dog can find his way anywhere, it will help the deceased find his way to the happy hunting grounds.
It seems that the most prevalent superstitious practice in the United States is the business of fortunetelling. Practice in this goes way back to the ancient Greeks and Romans, who had their oracles and augurs. Nowadays, persons in all walks of life are relieved of hundreds of thousands of dollars each year by fortunetellers giving advice on business, love affairs, and every other type of problem.
But why this pathetic belief in superstitions? What would make a person in his right mind accept such foolishness? Ignorance? True. Fear? Right again. But it seems that the basic reason goes deeper than this. Perhaps this is the answer. Every man has a knowledge of God, and that God is to be served. This gives all men a religious nature. They all have a deep-seated belief in the supernatural. Superstitions are the result of the perversion of this belief by the blinding and distorting force of sin upon the heart, mind, and soul. Sinful man rejects the supernatural powers that are real and resorts to imaginary powers that are non-existent except in his sin-perverted mind. Thus superstitions are the devil’s pitiful substitutes for the light of the Scriptures.
Therefore we can see that the best way of eliminating superstitions in the world is the preaching of the Word of God. It is through this preaching that the Holy Spirit works in the hearts of the elect, regenerating them, and thereby casting out these figments of the imagination and establishing his chosen in the faith that the Lord God is the creator and sustainer of all. Once a person knows and understands this, there is no place for superstitions of any kind in his life. And this is what is happening. It is a positive fact that where there are more Christians, there are fewer superstitions. Christians are realistic people.
But we must constantly be on guard. The devil is smart. He will often try to weaken our faith by logically proving that it is nothing more than another ignorant superstition. And he is very successful. Communism, with its atheistic doctrine, is spreading rapidly. Satan is right now trying to shake the very foundation of this faith with a fallible Bible. We must be constantly fighting, fighting for our faith, our realism, yes, fighting for our very life.