If you are one of the few Americans who don’t watch football or baseball in October, you may not be aware that it is National Breast Cancer Awareness month (which tends to overshadow the other commemoratives, including the all-important National Pizza Month). Ever since 1991, the pink ribbon has been the symbol of seeking the cure for breast cancer. Recently, you can’t turn on a ball game without seeing athletes wearing pink wristbands, gloves, and even shoes in support of a cure for this terrible disease. As I watched football games this past weekend, even some numbers on the field and other parts of the stadium were painted pink. This color certainly stands out, especially when it surrounds and adorns grizzly, grimy male athletes.
Displaying or wearing colored ribbons to communicate a message is nothing new. I remember seeing yellow ribbons tied around trees as a teenager during the Iran hostage crisis of 1979-1981. Even before that, there is significant American folklore about colored ribbons tied to remembering those who were at war or even for convicts as a message that they were welcomed home. Today, we have “awareness” ribbons of all virtually colors symbolizing various cancers, autism, diabetes, mental health issues, etc. It’s nearly impossible to keep up with all of their meanings. Color certainly has a way of provoking our memories.
When I see all of the pink ribbons proudly displayed in October, I can’t help but think of the story of Rahab in Joshua 2:18-21.
18 Behold, when we come into the land, you shall tie this scarlet cord in the window through which you let us down,and you shall gather into your house your father and mother, your brothers, and all your father’s household. 19 Then if anyone goes out of the doors of your house into the street, his blood shall be on his own head, and we shall be guiltless. But if a hand is laid on anyone who is with you in the house, his blood shall be on our head. 20 But if you tell this business of ours, then we shall be guiltless with respect to your oath that you have made us swear.” 21 And she said, “According to your words, so be it.” Then she sent them away, and they departed. And she tied the scarlet cord in the window.
I know, Rahab tied a red cord or rope in her window, not a pink ribbon–but it still works. If you recall, Rahab was a prostitute in Jericho who hid the men that Joshua sent to spy out the land. She hid them because she believed that their God would certainly destroy Jericho–and she wanted to be saved! So her act of saving the spies was out of her young faith in a God who is Almighty, and a God who saves. The spies then gave her that famous red cord to display in her window to send the message that everyone in her house would be saved. Only because of the red cord would they be rescued from destruction!
Now some of those more cynical around us may believe that the red color of the cord meant nothing–it’s just what the spies had available at the time. Well, it really doesn’t matter if the spies recognized or believed in the symbolism of the red cord. It doesn’t really matter if they didn’t think about how it connected to the Passover and the red blood painted on the doors in Egypt to save Israel from the tenth plague. But we can see the picture as we read the entirety of God’s Word. It is only by the red blood of Jesus that we are saved. We must have the blood of Jesus applied to our souls in order to be rescued from the only “disease” that will send us to eternal damnation–our sin. Only the red blood of Christ will bring us the healing of our souls!
So when you see all of the pink during October, you will inevitably and rightly think of the victims of breast cancer. Hopefully, as Christians, it will provoke us to pray for God’s mercy and a cure for this disease. Yet it is also proper and fitting that when you see pink, or any other colored commemorative ribbon, to “think red” and recall that red is the very REAL color we need in to save our lives. Praise God for the blood of Christ, shed for us!