The Language of Flowers

In Victorian times it was a popular pastime to assign meanings to flowers, which must have made sending, or receiving, a bouquet rather tricky. But worry not! I shan’t be analysing the next bouquet you send me, searching for hidden messages; I share my grandmother’s view that flowers of all sorts are a wonderful gift from a loving heavenly Father! Mind you, that doesn’t stop me having favourites, those flowers which somehow just have a special appeal. One of them is in full bloom on the rockery at the moment.


Violets hold memories which go back to happy childhood days, but they also remind me of a dear Christian brother, Abram Hamm, a pastor in the persecuted church in the Soviet Union. After many years of imprisonment for his faith, he was allowed to go to live in Germany. In conversation during one of his visits to the UK, he told of one particular experience in a prison camp. It was a Lord’s Day; he was out in the exercise yard, a barren expanse of hard-packed mud. He was feeling especially lonely, missing his family, missing his fellow believers. Even worse, he felt as though God Himself was far away, and he was forgotten, overwhelmed by a sense of uselessness. And then he ‘just happened’ to glance at the ground, and there it was, blooming bravely in a place where not even grass was growing, a little violet. How had it got there? He had no idea, but he felt deep in his heart that the Lord had put it there just for him, a token of God’s faithful love and a reminder that the Lord had a purpose for him even in such a hard place.


Here’s another flower which is in bloom just now, and this one – the forget-me-not – reminds me of the words of David (which doubtless were in Abram Hamm’s mind too):

How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me? (Psalm 13:1)

And then I think of the Lord’s answer through Isaiah:

Can a woman forget her nursing child, and not have compassion on the son of her womb? Surely they may forget, yet I will not forget you. See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands… (Isaiah 49:15-16a)

Is not that a wonderful encouragement?


A debtor to mercy alone,

Of covenant mercy I sing;

Nor fear, with Thy righteousness on,

My person and offering to bring;

The terrors of law and of God

With me can have nothing to do;

My Saviour’s obedience and blood

Hide all my transgressions from view.


The work which His goodness began,

The arm of His strength will complete;

His promise is Yea and Amen,

And never was forfeited yet.

Things future, nor things that are now,

Not all things below or above,

Can make Him his purpose forgo,

Or sever my soul from His love.


My name from the palms of His hands

Eternity will not erase;

Impressed on His heart it remains,

In marks of indelible grace;

Yes, I to the end shall endure,

As sure as the earnest is given;

More happy, but not more secure,

The glorified spirits in heaven.


Augustus M Toplady