One of the prettiest flowers in God’s summer bouquet is the black-eyed Susan. The colorization pattern of a yellow head with a dark brown or black button middle demonstrates that the black-eyed Susan is a member of the sunflower family. However, the shape of the petals and size makes it look like a type of daisy.
The beauty of this flower has not been wasted on the State of Maryland. In 1918, they adopted the black-eyed Susan as their state flower. And, yearly on the third Saturday of May in Baltimore, the Preakness Stakes is run. It is the second largest horse race in the U.S. and called The Run For The Black-Eyed Susans because the winner is presented with a blanket of yellow flowers, altered to look like the black-eyed Susan.
Besides the beauty of this flower gracing your flower garden, it is a flower attractive to certain species of butterflies. They will come and lay their larvae amongst the flowers. The flower garden becomes a breeding ground and nursery for butterflies.
The native Americans found medicinal uses for this flower. Claims have been made that the roots are used to bolster the immunity system against colds and flu. Other uses include: an astringent for sores, a poultice for snake bites, ear drops for earaches, a diuretic, and an antioxidant.
These herbal wonders do justice to an otherwise undesirable term. We do not typically think of a “black eye” as being attractive and beautiful. We would not go looking for ways to get a black eye, avoiding the person or thing that might be happy to provide it. And, if an accident happens – we trip and fall, hitting our eye – vanity kicks in and we will either avoid people until it clears or cover it with makeup.
Metaphorically, the term “black eye” is used to describe a detrimental effect of someone’s action against something else. His corrupt and unseemly behavior with our clients gave our company a “black eye.”
The Apostle Paul was actually someone who went looking for a black eye and used the term in a positive way. He said in 1 Corinthians 9:26-27, “I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: (27) But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.”
“Keep under my” is one word in the Greek. It’s a boxing term that means to give a black eye. Each injury to a boxer in the ring weakens them, bringing them into submission to their opponent. Paul recognizes that our unredeemed bodies with their lusts and passions cause us a lot of problems, getting in the way of spiritual victory. To keep the body under control, Paul beats it down, disciplining and denying it of all that could hinder him from spiritual victory.
We don’t often tell ourselves “no.” Instead, we surrender to whims and wants. While the particular desire may not be sinful, the practice of self-denial sets us up for victory when the desires are sinful. We have to establish a pattern of discipline, building up our fortitude and courage for the times when the enemy attacks.
Let the beauty of the black-eyed Susans remind us of the beauty of the black eyes of self-discipline.