A “Good Grief” (a Tribute to my Dad)

One would think that after many millennia of the human race, we would have figured this out. Death that is. If we are truly more evolved than our ancestors, surely we would rise above the emotion of grief. But maybe grief is hardwired into our cerebrum, because God intended us to experience the harshness of temporal separation from those who pass on before us.

As painful as it is, maybe that is a good thing. A “good grief.”

Many of you know by now that my father, Ronald Ray Grover, passed away two days ago, January 11, at the ripe young age of 79. My mom, sister, all of our family, and I are grateful for your thoughts and prayers. 

Although we grieve, we do not grieve as those who have no hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13). Ours is a good grief. No matter how loud death may shout, it does not have the final word. Death has no victory. In fact, it has been swallowed up in victory (1 Corinthians 15:54-55). The sting of death has been soothed. The last enemy to be destroyed is death (1 Corinthians 15:26), and indeed it has been destroyed by the One who went through the grave into the resurrected life. Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25).

So, as my family and I experience this good grief, let me tell you about my dad. He grew up as a PK (Pastor’s Kid) with two brothers. He was an athlete, a hard worker, and a student of the Bible who went on to become a pastor himself. He loved my mom, my sister and me, and he especially loved his grandkids. 

He taught me determination, loyalty, and a rigorous work ethic. And even though he and I butted heads quite a bit during my rebellious teen years, he never gave up on me, and he showed me the power of grace. I have had the privilege of following in his footsteps and in the footsteps of his father by becoming a pastor, and the Lord granted me the joy of serving with him in two churches—Central Christian in Wichita, Kansas and Journey Christian in New Orleans.

If you knew my dad, you knew he was a behind-the-scenes leader. He was the go-to guy if something needed to be done around the church, whether it was to help remove snow from the parking lot or manage the church database. He wasn’t the guy who crowds would line up to follow; he was the guy who got people lined up. He was methodical, dutiful, kindhearted, and gracious. He made those around him better people. He made me a better husband, father and preacher, and I will miss his influence in my life.

Grieve we should. Grieve we must. For God did not create us to die but to live. And even though “in Adam all die, in Christ all will be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22). Therefore, “weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5). 

So, Dad, I look forward to seeing you in the morning.