Red-Letter Words for Red-Letter Days

We all have special days – birthdays, wedding days, and special occasions. For centuries, certain dates have been printed in red on the calendar to indicate they were distinct and worth celebrating.

That’s why we call special events “Red-Letter Days.” As I look now at my employee payroll calendar, our holidays are cheerfully printed in red, and who wouldn’t celebrate a day off work?

February 5, 2018, is a date I will never forget. It was a Red-Letter Day, but of a very different kind.

It was the day my husband received a call regarding a radiology report. He went for a scan the week before to check on what we thought were recurring kidney stones. The person on the phone said: “You need to see your doctor immediately; we found a mass in your pancreas that has metastasized to the liver.”  Words can’t describe the shock, fear, and uncertainty we experienced as we waited for oncologists, tests, and biopsies to determine a diagnosis of stage four pancreatic cancer.

They told us his life expectancy was around a year.

All the dreams and plans we had made vanished within moments. Life unavoidably changed, and now we face the unknown. But even as tears flowed, we felt an unexplainable peace. It was and continues to be the peace of knowing we are being held by our Heavenly Father. He assures us that not a tear drops that he doesn’t feel the hurt and fear it contains.

Yet still in a moment like this what can you do? I began searching the Word of God in a new way, looking for answers and comfort. I was just trying to find some solace for my devastated heart. We know that all of God’s Word is precious and can soothe hurting souls, but at times like this, we often find ourselves going directly to the words spoken by Jesus, the ones which have been printed in red.

This was a moment when I needed my Savior’s word most – the red ones.

In John 10:27-30, Jesus’ own words remind us that He is holding us in His hand. He says: “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”

He Knows Me

Jesus says that He knows His sheep (v. 27). He knows me; He created me; and I belong to Him. He knows every intricate part of my soul. He knows that I am afraid, and He says to me, “You know My voice.” The voice that spoke creation into existence is the same voice that tells me now, “I am holding you, you are not alone, and you don’t need to be afraid. Trust me.”

He Saved Me

Not only does He know me, but He saved me (v. 28a). Through His death and resurrection, He gave me eternal life. The love He showed in this sacrifice quenches any question that He would leave me alone in a time of trouble. His love is greater than anything we experience on this earth and reminds us that this is just our temporary home anyway. How very small we are in the expanse of time, and yet He cares for every single one of us. I am important to my Savior; He sees what I am going through; and He looks on me with eyes of sacrificial, saving love.

He Protects Me

Jesus also says He protects me, and nothing can take me from Him (vv. 28b-30)…not even the destructive turmoil of cancer. Jesus is going before me and defeating every spiritual foe. When I begin to wander into the wilderness of fear, self-pity, and sorrow, He reminds me that I am in His hand. Nothing can penetrate His grip – not worry, not dread, not doubt. He is my strong fortress in times of trouble (Ps. 9:9).

This path we are on is not easy and the outcome is unsure. However, I know Jesus’ words, the ones in red, are words which my heart can celebrate. February 5th will never be a Red-Letter Day for me in the traditional sense; it certainly wasn’t a day of joy.

But it will be a Red-Letter Day on which I can celebrate the overwhelming love of Jesus, my Creator, my Savior, and my Protector.


Jill Botticelli is a Certified Archivist who serves SWBTS at the J.T. and Zelma Luther Archives in Roberts Library. She holds an undergraduate degree in Bible from Arlington Baptist University and a Master of Library Science degree from the State University of New York at Buffalo. Jill and her husband Vinnie serve at First Baptist Church in Willow Park, Texas. She has a great passion to enhance theological training through sharing history, and can’t think of anything more exciting than researching Texas Baptists!

5 thoughts on “Red-Letter Words for Red-Letter Days”

  1. Jackie Green says:

    Beautifully written! Love you Jill. And we are still praying!!!

  2. judy cornell says:

    I love the red letter theme and integrating it with Christ’s words to us.
    I will share this devotion with some friends that are going through some really tough times. Thank you.

  3. Pamela Meridith says:

    I can tell this was tearfully written because it was read with tears in my eyes. Through your pain, I am reminded that, “I am important to my Savior; He sees what I am going through; and He looks on me with eyes of sacrificial, saving love.” My battle is minor, but I still need to be reminded that Jesus is in control.
    Thank you for staying in the Spirit through all you do, my friend.

  4. Rachael Mangum says:

    Jill, Your “Red Letter Days” has been a blessing to my heart. Thank you for sharing. Praying for you and your husband. Rachael Mangum

  5. Melanie Craven says:

    Amen and Amen, Jill. No one can fully explain the impact when you hear the “C” word regarding a beloved family member. We heard it regarding our daughter, who passed away on February 5th (our 26th wedding anniversary) and we heard it again with my husband in April, 2014. He went to heaven on 9-11-2016. God is faithful, and His ways are “past finding out.” Thank you for this article and blessings as you remain in the palm of His hand. (Your mom and dad are our missionaries!)