A small dog was adopted by a couple and loved immediately. They realized he had been bullied and had some problems with food aggression. They sought help from a professional, and after several weeks the dog was able to eat his food without growling and snarling when humans walked by.
Eventually all food aggression tendencies appeared resolved. The dog was also quite afraid of strangers and other dogs. On walks he cowered between his owner’s legs whenever another dog was seen or heard. While at home the dog was happy and well adjusted, but if the doorbell rang, he was terrified.
A year went by, and the couple continued to see improvements in their pet’s sensitivity to strangers and other dogs. Their trainer was able to assist enough that the dog could now walk on a leash in most cases, and sat quietly when a stranger rang at the door. They were confident they had helped their pet overcome his trauma, and enjoyed several years without much incident. The next door neighbor children loved the dog, and were even occasionally allowed to gently play with the dog and his favorite object.
The couple’s youngest son was called away on military service quite suddenly and asked his parents to care for his dog. They were hesitant, knowing the great effort it had been for their dog to adjust and handle everyday circumstances. A second dog in the home seemed a recipe for the return of fear in their dog.
They agreed to find the dog a home and kept her in the garage. One night a terrible storm frightened the female dog so much, that the husband brought her in. The couple’s dog stood curiously by as the female’s cage was brought in and she was put inside. He stood guard in front of her door, as if uncertain that she might get out and hurt him.
After a minute he lay down and refused to move from her cage door. A gust of wind buffeted the home, and the female anxiously whined and circled in her cage, terrified again. To this fear, the couple’s dog was instantly alert. He sniffed at her and watched, then lay down again. The wife was about to take the dog out, when she noticed that the female also lay down in response. With the dogs in close proximity, the couple returned to bed, for the female was now calmer.
The next morning the couple took both dogs outside. The female was a large dog with friendly eyes that sniffed each passerby, whether it was another dog or a human. She greeted the next door neighbor children with a yelp and was happy to play with them as well. As the couple observed the interaction between the dogs, they saw no fear or aggression.
The couple decided to try a short walk with both dogs. Just as they rounded the corner, a dog that had been troublesome for their dog came into view. They turned to avoid the encounter, but not quickly enough. The other dog lunged forward, barking at them. Just as the woman backed away to protect her dog, the female came forward and became the dog’s focus. Unafraid, she faced the dog and greeted it. Satisfied, the dog continued on, passing the startled couple. It was if the dogs were able to compensate for the other’s fears, and they were companions from that day on.
Moral of the story:
In Matthew 1:20 an angel addresses fears. Our greatest fears are often deeply held and not the first thing we discuss with anyone, even if the person is a counselor or a beloved friend or family member. Sometimes they are fears we ourselves cannot look at fully because it is so deep inside; or maybe it cycles in our mind once we start there and traps us.
The angel who appeared to Joseph started his discussion with “Fear not:” Why is it that every angelic visit seems to begin this way? I can only assume because an angel is awesome and terrifying. After coaxing the person from their fear, the angel brings a message. However, the angel first adds an interesting statement. “Joseph, thou son of David” and then addresses the reason for his visit, to set his mind at ease about Mary.
We know Joseph’s father was not David, David had been dead a long time. I have a theory on why this was said. Joseph was a just man, he loved the Lord. To be called ‘son of David’ was to be reminded of the promises and love God had for David and his posterity. By calling Joseph this, he reminds him that the very God of the universe notices him and has a special place for him. How comforting at that moment! Through Jesus anyone has the opportunity to be seen by God in the same positive way. To be seen this way astounds me, for I see my own faults all too clearly.