After years of fighting a form of diabetes that was difficult to manage, a man was given the option to have a service dog live with him.
He had been married only a few years, and already his wife had called for paramedics several times and worried about when the next problem would arise. She insisted that he request a service dog immediately, despite his protests. His wife was highly allergic to dogs and cats, and he hated the idea of her suffering further on his behalf.
Several months later their new service dog Aggie had moved into the couple’s home and the two had adjusted to the new creature quite well. They had hoped for an allergy-reducing poodle, but found none available. Aggie was a friendly and reliable short-haired dog that seemed completely at ease with them. The house was now equipped with a central vacuum that was used daily in each room Aggie entered, and a powerful air cleaner for the bedroom. Although the equipment helped, the woman did suffer from some allergic responses, but she tolerated them cheerfully.
The woman had a difficult day with allergies and was struggling with an asthma attack that would not subside. Her husband discovered her and rushed her to the hospital, swearing the dog was the cause and regretting his decision to take Aggie. Aggie accepted his command to stay at home without complaint. As he began to drive away, the man felt a moment of panic. He felt so much safer with Aggie around, that a part of him wished she had complained just a little. Glancing at his wife in the passenger seat struggling to breathe jolted him into action.
Pacing around the hospital waiting room, the man realized he had become accustomed to Aggie’s presence when twice he wondered where she had gone. She had grown on him and he was now very fond of the animal that he had once considered just a medical necessity. There was no way his wife would agree to find another dog; even if the asthma attack was caused by Aggie in their home. He knew that his wife loved Aggie, especially because she had already alerted them twice of a problem with his levels. It was apparent that he too had grown to love Aggie without realizing it.
Several years passed before the couple was informed that Aggie had a rare but deadly tumor and had only a few weeks to live. The news rocked the couple, and both cried at the idea of their beloved dog not being with them. As Aggie soon after passed away, the woman cried out when Aggie stopped breathing. It was as if the certainty and comfort Aggie had brought to their lives was over. She buried her head in Aggie’s warm coat and sobbed for several minutes while her husband tried to comfort her.
Only half an hour later the man was on his way to the hospital, driving his wife as fast as he could safely go. She was in bad shape, having the kind of reaction that he had feared when he first read the pamphlet and considered owning a service animal. Her eyes were almost swollen shut, both from crying and close contact with Aggie. Her reaction lasted a full two days before his wife was finally released from the hospital, still mourning the loss.
Determined not to further risk her health, the man flatly refused to consider another service animal. His wife was despondent and withdrawn, but he hoped that it was temporary. After many weeks of watching her continue to suffer, he realized it was no use. He had tried to be strong and show no emotions, but every day at work was lonely without Aggie nearby. He bore the well-intentioned comments of his coworkers, but could not ensure the sad look on his wife’s face. Both of them were miserable, and so he relented. It was time to take the risk and let in another dog. Aggie had been well worth it.
—————Thoughts that motivated this story—————
In this story I reflected on an experience that might involve a sort of self-imposed loss and longing, to relate in a small way to how Jesus hungered and longed for food.
And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred.
In Matthew 4:2 we read that Jesus fasted for a great amount of time, something that seems impossible to our understanding, and incredibly difficult. We could rationalize it and say He had divine powers that made it possible and that makes it different. There were two other men who also fasted in the wilderness forty days, so that tells me it is humanly possible, or possible with God’s help to sustain them. If you read about Moses (one of the two who fasted as well) you might notice a few other similarities he had with Jesus. Certainly Jesus didn’t kill anyone or run away, but He did act as a conduit for God for the people of His day. Moses was like God’s interpreter, explaining the divine and eternal being “I AM” to confused and messed up humans, and Jesus did the same thing, He was and is our reference point to what God is like.
When I try to fathom how Jesus fasted, and how He did it as a human and not supernaturally, I can’t. I’ve fasted before and yes, it does get easier as time goes on because the body adjusts. It is not a constant craving like it is at first…but there is a weakness that pervades through you, as well as a clarity of mind that is really pretty cool. We are told that although Jesus made it to forty days, the author points out that He hungered. He missed food, and He was just like me when I miss something terribly, and in a way to me that means He wasn’t some superhero that had no weakness, there was definitely weakness and we are shown it. It was at this time the Satan chose to make his first attack on him.
Right now I am facing loss and I miss my Grandma who just passed away. She was a link that will never be a part of my life again, and all the questions I never thought to ask are welling up now. I am weakened by this grief, and I am worn out by the longing that somehow I would have seen her ‘just once more’ before she slipped away as was planned the very weekend she died. It felt surreal to realize she was gone, and to know my son would not know her as more than a vague memory. These times of weariness, weakness, and need are so uncomfortable. Would I relate to this passage if all was well in my life? Probably not. At the cross we are shown great grief and longing, again by the very person who is the source of my joy, Jesus. It was God’s will to allow that pain to be recorded. It tells me that all my grief, my sorrows, and my swallowed tears are understood by Jesus today. Would that cross be as meaningful if had been easy? Definitely not!