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We are in the midst of the Purim season. This is a season where God wants to turn our sadness into gladness, our darkness to light, our heaviness to lightness, our destruction to salvation, and of course, our Eeyore into Tigger.
Let me explain. When my sons were very young, their favorite cartoon was Winnie the Pooh. I observed the characters quite often and discovered what I call “the Eeyore Syndrome.” “Good morning Pooh Bear,” Eeyore would say gloomily. “If it is a good morning,” he would add, “which I doubt.”
For some people, depression is a constant companion. They cannot experience even a moment of happiness. They exist in a hopeless, anxious, emotional pattern of sadness. Sadness is rooted in the spirit of Amalek and has to be rooted out.
In some ways, depression can be seen as a defense mechanism. If we don’t get too excited about anything, we can’t be disappointed. We numb ourselves. In doing so, we numb our pain, but also our ability to feel joy.
In Jewish thought, depression is seen to be one of the most dangerous and destructive forces to our spiritual lives. It is a curse that cripples us. Depression can rob us of our ability to love and serve God and others.
We are in the midst of the Purim season, which is supposed to be one of the happiest times on the Jewish calendar. It’s a time of great simcha (celebration). Joy is to abound during this holiday, and the entire Hebrew month of Adar. Esther 9:22 refers to this time as “the month which was transformed from sorrow to joy.”
Joy is completely counter to depression. Joy is an abiding sense of what is wonderful. It’s something beyond happiness; it is an optimistic, sunshine-filled emotional pattern that we can refer to as the Tigger syndrome. Tigger loves to hop around while he sings his signature ditty: “The most wonderful thing about Tigger is Tiggers are wonderful things!” Tigger is always joyful, no matter what is happening. He reflects a true biblical joy, which is not rooted in our circumstance.
True joy has really no connection to happiness. Happiness is shallower than joy. The root word “happy” comes from the word “happenstance,” which is based on circumstance. Happiness is from the outside in. Joy is transcendent. Joy is from the inside out.
So many days, I come home exhausted. I walk through my front door and am greeted by pure joy in the form of my two boys. “Daddy! Daddy!” They jump on me and hug me, and my exhaustion shifts into exhilaration. Joy is contagious! As our sages say, “simcha poritz geder” — joy breaks all barriers.
Joy empowers us; it gives us encouragement, zeal, enthusiasm, optimism, and it allows us to transcend all obstacles—even the fear of death itself. In John 17, we see Yeshua’s final prayer before his crucifixion. He prays, “I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them.”
I love the word poritz (breaker) because, in Jewish thought, it is actually one of the names of the Messiah. “The poritz [meaning Messiah] will go before them. He will break through, passing through the gate and go out through it” (Micah 2:13).
The Messiah is the descendent of Peretz from the tribe of Judah. Peretz means “the one who breaks forth from his mother’s womb.” Joy is the key to breaking the evil one’s yoke and receiving a greater anointing in our lives. Depression robs us of our ability to serve God and others, but joy sets us free fulfill our destiny.
How can we escape the dark emotions that threaten to keep us from our inheritance? For Esther, faith overcame fear and moved her into her destiny where she found joy. Joy awaits us. We were designed for it, and God wants nothing less for us. I pray you will be transformed by the essence of true joy, the kind that comes from a connection with Yeshua Messiah.