Unpleasant Duty

bear4“How do you tell someone their closest relative has been eaten by a bear?” This is the question that Ronnie asked me as he began his story.

Ronnie White was a Chaplain for a West Texas police department. The call came in for him to report to the station and accompany an officer to the house of a local resident.

The lady’s husband had been fishing in Alaska and the understanding was that this man had been eaten by a bear. Now Ronnie said that he had spent much time in Alaska and knew the territory very well. Bears have been known to maul and maim but he had never heard of anyone being eaten by one.


The information came back from Alaska and it was true. The bear had been tracked down and killed. The man’s wallet was found in its stomach along with other proof that the story was true.

Suddenly it dawned on Chaplain Ronnie that he had the unsavory duty of informing the wife that her husband had most certainly been eaten by a bear. This was completely uncharted waters that he was heading into.

How do you inform a wife of this terrible fact? What do you say? How do you preface this conversation? Ronnie was quite nervous and began praying for wisdom. He thought and prayed and discussed this with the attending officer all the way to the rural residence.

bear6They finally arrived and walked up the drive and to the front door. Nervously, Ronnie knocked, still not knowing what he was to say to this lady who would be devastated by his news.

Upon opening the door and seeing the officers, the lady’s first words were, “So, did Ted get eaten by a bear? I told him not to go ’cause I knew he was gonna get eaten by a bear.”

Well, it was certainly a surprise to these two men. The wife was grieved but, being one of those tough West Texas gals, was not totally devastated by it. She even knew the dangers and anticipated trouble.

never despair8Ronnie learned a lesson that day. God may not give you His answer immediately, but sometimes He gives it in ways we do not expect. So, let’s trust Him to do the right thing and keep seeking His answers for life’s dilemmas.