The "Black Dog"

J. Davy Crockett III
Comment on this article

Depression plagues many people. I’m not talking about having a bad day or feeling blue, which everyone experiences now and then. The depression I’m referring to is the kind of feeling that incapacitates a person with overwhelming feelings of dark and foreboding thoughts that cannot simply be shaken off. It is the kind of depression that drives people to do desperate, often irrational things, including suicide.

It’s more common than you may realize and it causes untold misery and hardship. There are several causes for this awful condition. Overwhelming feelings of guilt can certainly be a factor. Circumstances resulting from a lifetime of bad decisions and the resulting consequences can trigger depression. And, the experts say that a familial or genetic predisposition to depression can be a factor in the condition.

Some very famous personalities battled depression for much of their lives, but achieved success in their fields of endeavor in spite of their depression. One such man of renown was Sir Winston Churchill. He referred to his bouts with deep depression as the “Black Dog.” And yet, Mr. Churchill overcame this tendency to languish in dark depression to become the leader the free world needed in its darkest hour during World War II. He overcame an unhappy childhood, parental neglect and the tendency toward depression to become one of the great leaders of the twentieth century.

There have been other people of great ability and character who overcame their depressive nature to accomplish much. In reading the Psalms of King David of Israel, you will find that he had great highs and yet he also often seemed to write from the depths of despair.

In Psalm 38:1–8 David lamented, “O Lord, do not rebuke me in Your wrath, nor chasten me in Your hot displeasure! For Your arrows pierce me deeply, and Your hand presses me down. There is no soundness in my flesh because of Your anger, nor any health in my bones because of my sin. For my iniquities have gone over my head; like a heavy burden they are too heavy for me. My wounds are foul and festering because of my foolishness. I am troubled, I am bowed down greatly; I go mourning all the day long. For my loins are full of inflammation, and there is no soundness in my flesh. I am feeble and severely broken; I groan because of the turmoil of my heart.”

You can hear the anguish in his words in this impassioned plea for God to intervene on his behalf.

Depression is not new in the human experience, but it can be overcome. The Bible reveals that the Holy Spirit bears fruit that is the antithesis of depression. Paul explained this in his letter to the church at Galatia: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22–23).

If you suffer from the “Black Dog” of depression, you may need professional or medical intervention to bring it under control. However, the eternal truths found in the Bible can bring peace of mind. Paul wrote to the church in Philippi, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6–7).

On our website you will find our free booklet entitled What is a True Christian and other resources, which will be helpful if you or someone you care about is dealing with this widespread condition. Don’t delay; obtain this information. You will be glad you did.

  Originally Published: 17th August 2010