40 days…

Hello all! Thanking the many people praying for me, sending supportive notes, and generally being there for me.  It means the world.

I’m part way through my 3rd cycle of chemo – 3rd of 4.  My doctor told me to expect each time to include 10 bad days.  Each cycle is 3 weeks – so 21 days.  If you do the math, 4 rounds of 10 bad days = 40 days.

I’m not into numerology or things like that, but it is easy to notice the number 40 in Hebrew and Christian scriptures.

  • The rains (in Noah’s day) fell for 40 days and nights (Genesis 7:4).
  • Moses was with God in the mount, 40 days and nights (Exodus 24:18).
  • The spies searched the land of Canaan for 40 days (Numbers 13:25).
  • Israel wandered for 40 years (Numbers 14:33-34).
  • Eli judged Israel for 40 years (1 Samuel 4:18).
  • Saul reigned for 40 years (Acts 13:21).
  • David reigned over Israel for 40 years (2 Samuel 5:4, 1 Kings 2:11).
  • Solomon reigned same length as his father; 40 years (1 Kings 11:42).
  • Elijah had one meal that gave him strength 40 days (1 Kings 19:8).
  • God gave Nineveh 40 days to repent (Jonah 3:4).
  • Jesus fasted 40 days and nights (Matthew 4:2).
  • Jesus was tempted 40 days (Luke 4:2, Mark 1:13).
  • Jesus remained on earth 40 days after resurrection (Acts 1:3).
  • Women are pregnant for 40 weeks (time of testing).

40, as I read it, is the number for what seems like forever … just over the mark from too much.  It’s beyond what people can easily stand (the pregnancy one is best evidence for that!).  But each of these is also attached to a promise.  40 is not just misery; it is God journeying with God’s people.  It is God giving ways of building community, of people being transformed, of us learning to be in the waiting and the wondering.

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