The flower forget-me-not is named “Vergissmeinnicht” in German and “Незабудка” in Russian. The meaning is the same in all three languages.
Wikipedia offers two sources for the naming of the flower. In a German legend, God named all the plants when a tiny unnamed one cried out, “Forget-me-not, O Lord!” God replied, “That shall be your name.”
In English, the flower has had its name since 1398 when Henry IV was in exile. He adopted it as his flower, the symbol of his throne. It’s unclear if it had the name before the king was exiled or given that name upon his return.
While I’ve not been in exile, it’s felt a bit like that these last few weeks. I’ve been off work for six weeks now and it feels like an eternity. I am starting to recover, which is great. But I feel for many people whose health means a permanent cessation of work. Maybe it’s because I’m a pastor, which is the best job in the world, but the thought of maybe not being able to minister on a permanent basis had me feeling most bereft for a while.
As the little forget-me-not cried out to God in the German legend, or as Henry IV cried out for a return to English soil, so I can see how folk can feel abandoned. ‘Forget me not!’ cried the flower. ‘Forget me not’ we cry out when our situation feels desperate.
I’ve been blessed that my being laid aside is not permanent. But this flower has got me thinking about those words of the ancient King David,
How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? Psalm 13:1
We don’t know when David wrote this psalm. Maybe it was on the hills as a young man while he was waiting to become king. Maybe it was while in exile in a foreign land, living as a hired soldier. Or maybe it was while he was being chased around the countryside of Judea by a paranoid and insecure King Saul. All we do know that is that his anguished heart who saw no end to his torment ended up by trusting in God to help him.
But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me. Psalm 13:5-6
Despite the hard times, or maybe because of them, David knew that God was faithful. And I know this truth too. For its when we struggle to pray, when faith is as small as a mustard seed, when it all depends on Him and not on us (because we have nothing left to give) that we know the goodness of God. The love of God. The faithfulness of God.
God has not forgotten me. He has not forgotten you either. Will you join me as I join King David?
I too will sing the Lord’s praises, for he has been good to me.