It’s hard to believe that it’s been 40 days since I got the urgent call from my general practitioner’s office that I needed to get an emergency appointment with an oncologist and the word “Cancer” rolled uncomfortably off her tongue (she’s young and new to the practice so I think I may have been the first person she ever had to deliver that kind of news to).
When she already had the referral ready, the oncologist approved on my plan, the phone number and address, had already faxed them my lab results and insisted she was going to call me back in two hours to make sure I got an appointment within 48 hours or she was going to call them herself to get me in, I knew I better give this one my attention.
I happen to be home on the day I got the call, so my dear husband Edward over heard the conversation and came and sat by my side as I jotted down all the information my GP was giving me, “now write this down, Mrs. Yost – a-d-e-n-o-c-a-r-c-e-n-o-m-a.” When I hung up the phone all I could do is laugh, which I’m sure horrified my poor husband who surely thought I was insane. But I could almost hear the voice of God, who knew it would take something as dramatic as the “C” word to get me to stop and focus on my own needs and health. He’d given me a subtle nudge the year before and I blew him off (note to self: don’t blow off God).
Isn’t it amazing how many times “40 days” occurs in scripture?
· It rained for 40 days and 40 nights when God wanted to cleanse the world and start over. (Gen 7:12 KJV)
· Noah waited another 40 days after it rained before he opened a window in the Ark. (Gen 8:6 KJV)
· Embalming required 40 days (although this was an Egyptian custom, the Egyptians recognized the period of 40 for the preparation of going into a new life, what they called the afterlife) (Gen 50:3 KJV)
· Moses was on the mountain with God for 40 days (TWICE) (Exo 24:18 KJV) (Exo 34:28-29 KJV) (Deu 10:10 NIV)
· Moses' face shone after the 40 days on the mountain. (Exo 34:29 KJV)
· It took the spies 40 days to search out the promised land and bring back fruit (Num 13:25 KJV)
· The Israelites spent 40 years in the wilderness, one year for each day they explored the Promised Land. (Exo 16:35 KJV) (Num 14:33-34 NIV)
· Goliath came for forty days before being killed by David (1 Sam 17:16 NLT)
· Elijah strengthened by one angelic meal went forty days to Mount Horeb where the Lord passed by and he heard the voice of God (1 Ki 19:8 KJV)
· Jonah warned the City of Nineveh they had 40 days until God would overthrow the city. The people repented in those 40 days and God spared the city. (Jonah 3:4 and 10 KJV)
· Jesus fasted for 40 days in the wilderness (Mat 3:17 KJV) (Mat 4:1-2 KJV) Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.
· Jesus was seen in the earth 40 days after His crucifixion (Acts 1:3 NIV)
· There’s another half a dozen “40s” in the book Revelation alone, but that could be a whole separate blog post!
As yesterday, the day of my surgical follow up, marked day 40, I had to marvel at this whirlwind journey that feels like it ended almost as soon as it began (praise God!) when my oncologist gave me the “all clear” that I am officially cancer free. They did find some additional lesions during the hysterectomy that they didn’t expect, but all were benign and I will be off short-term-disability after, you guessed it, 40 DAYS.
I’ve never been the kind of person to ask “why” (oh, why, me God? Why cancer, God?) – it’s not my style. I’m more of “what” and “how” person (What I’m I supposed to learn from this? How will God have me use it for His glory?). God knows He has to flick me pretty hard in the forehead to get my attention (after all, he wired me that way) and that it would take something pretty drastic to get me to slow down (it was cancer or getting hit by a bus… I’m sure it was a heavenly coin toss).
I don’t believe in coincidences, I believe God’s hand is in everything – big and small. There was a moment about two-thirds of the way through my 40-day journey after the pathology from the cervical surgery came back negative for cancer (pre-cancer only) where my oncologist put the option out there that we could cancel the hysterectomy and go with a therapy alternative, but something inside of me (voice of God?) was telling me I was really supposed to have this last surgery.
…and so I listened, and God revealed why…
In addition the pre-cancerous lesions that the oncologist didn’t expect to find during the surgery, the hospital stay itself revealed an unrelated health problem that needed attention that I had been ignoring for about two years. You see, the “cancer call” was a surprise – the result of a routine annual exam for which I was experiencing NO symptoms or signs that indicated I had a problem. But there was a different issue that I did have symptoms for that I had been ignoring the importance of. Part of me feels like God used this 40-second-cancer-scare to make me deal with the other issue. A pretty hard flick in the forehead, God! But one I am grateful for because if not for the hospital stay with this last surgery I would have never had the medical corroboration to accompany my unvoiced complaint about symptoms that I was blowing off as just “in my head.”
God was clearly telling me to slow down and take a break and He knew I would never voluntarily take time off from work to take care of myself. Remember note to self– don’t blow off God.
Of course, God knows me, He made me, and He knows how focused, driven and stubborn I am – I can’t wait to see what He uses next to flick me in the forehead and how long it takes for me to notice. :-)