An Untimely Death

  • Dec. 6, 2018
  • #9549

Better to go to a house of mourning, for it is there we tend to examine our hearts in the light of life’s fragility and to seek God’s free gift of eternal life in Christ our Savior.

Hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada and I just have to tell you about my friend Chip.

Chip Kingery was my friend and coworker at our ministry, before he and his wife Jean went back to India to continue their missionary work. He served as our international director at Joni and Friends for a while. But then this year, when they came back to the States for a short time, Chip developed kidney cancer. We all prayed that God would heal him, but it was like, he got cancer one minute, it spread, and the next minute, he was gone. His death was so quick, so untimely. Chip and Jean were just entering a new season in their lives, enjoying their grandchildren. His passing just felt so premature.

Many people wondered why God would allow such a thing, why he would take Chip home so suddenly, so unexpectedly. Why didn’t God prevent what seemed to be a tragic death? Followers of Jesus once asked him the same question. A tower had unexpectedly fallen on some people, killing many of them. And when the disciples asked about that tragedy, Jesus simply answered them, “…what about those people who died? They weren’t the worst sinners? No, and unless you repent, you will perish, too."

What an odd response. Rather than suggest a cause for all those senseless deaths, Jesus responds by telling them to repent: “don’t look at others and wonder why; look at yourself and examine the condition of your own soul.” When someone dies – someone whom we’d least expect – it’s always God’s “wake-up call,” sounding a loud alarm (ding-ding), reminding us how short, fleeting and frail life really is for us all! It’s also a reminder for us to examine our own souls; are we ready to meet a holy God? Have we been careless with our life in Christ? Have we honestly walked in a manner worthy of the gospel? Would we be ashamed, embarrassed of some hidden sin, some dark habit if suddenly, tomorrow, God calls you home? We rarely think about such things; it’s natural to assume that this parade of life as we know it is just going to go on and on. But then a friend gets kidney cancer, it spreads, a life is cut short and we begin to understand what Job meant when he said, “A person's days are numbered.”

Just a couple months ago, at Chip’s Memorial Service, I was thinking of Ecclesiastes Chapter 7 where it says, “It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, because that is the end of every man, and the living should take it to heart.” It’s when we are hit with death in the family or in our circle of friends, it’s usually only then that we think – really think – about the larger issues of life. Like, what’ll happen when I pass away? Am I convinced I'll walk through the gates of Heaven? Or am I going to face the jaws of hell?

Chip staked his life on the Gospel. He knew that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God." "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ.” Oh friend, it’s a gift. And like any gift, you have to accept it, open it up, and enjoy it; embrace it to yourself. And if you’d like to open God's gift to embrace Christ as your Savior, if you have not yet done so, please visit today and click on the Good News tab right there on our home page; learn more about how much Jesus loves you. In fact we even have a prayer that you can use to invite Him into your heart, because as Chip would say, you want to go Home in the best sense of the word. So, let me hear from you on our Good News tab at

© Joni and Friends



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