Pansies in the South have been phenomenal this year. They are the larger flowering subsection of the Viola family of plants, usually with a well defined blotch or eye zone.
One noteworthy exception of this successful pansy season is our yard. What with health challenges and other things occupying our time, the annual “planting of the pansies” did not occur at the usual time last fall. In fact, one half-flat of these charming annuals has been languishing on the mulch around the old cherry tree all winter.
It won’t make much sense to plant them now, as the weather heats up, as much as I love them. By the end of springtime, they usually are leggy and fried by the hot sun, even when they got the right start in the autumn.
Yes, pansies are a little finicky and a lot fragile. They require heavy feeding and cool (but not really cold) temperatures. Their weak and brittle stems are easily broken, and it’s not uncommon to lose more than half a plant after an animal steps over the plant or a weeding implement gets too close.
If a person is ever derisively called a “pansy,” it isn’t a complimentary term regarding his or her fortitude and endurance.
Sadly enough, there are warnings in the Bible about being weak and fragile.
Jesus warned His disciples, “Keep watching and praying that you may not come into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Mark 14:38, NASB).
“Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong” (1 Corinthians 16:13).
God understands our most basic human weakness, but asks us to become strong. However, just as my weak little pansies didn’t get planted due to my own physical weakness, we are going to fall far short of that tall order. God had that figured out already. His grace has covered the shortfall! Even in our prayers, He helps us.
“In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words” (Romans 8:26).
As for physical frailties, the apostle Paul asked for help with an ailment, but didn’t get the answer he expected.
“And He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).
We serve and worship a God who not only knows our frailties and fragility as humans (Hebrews 4:15), but can turn them around into strength!
“But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong” (1 Corinthians 1:27).
On second thought, those spindly little pansies deserve to be planted. They’ll be a reminder during a season of weakness that our God is a God of strength!