Fall 2022

Sportswriter Jonathan Tjarks passes away from cancer, wife says 'God is still faithful'

Sportswriter Jonathan Tjarks passed away Saturday night following a battle with a rare form of cancer called a BCOR-CCNB3 sarcoma since April 2021. He was 34.

Jonathan leaves behind his wife, Melissa, and son, Jackson. Melissa announced his passing on the journal where she’s been providing updates during Jonathan’s battle. The post is titled “Home in heaven,” and she said Jonathan’s final day was spent with his family and two best friends.

“Jon was such a precious gift and I’m forever grateful for the years we had together,” Melissa wrote. “While God’s timing is not the timing we’d hoped for, we remind ourselves that God is still faithful and good. We have a lot of questions, but God will answer our questions in due time.”

Most of the post is focused on the way Jonathan loved others well — especially his family — to the very end of his life and the eternal hope their family has through their faith in God. Melissa also shared a passage from Ecclesiastes — one of Jonathan’s favorite books of the Bible — that talks about God’s perfect timing.

“I know when Jon met God face to face, he heard a hearty ‘well done, my good and faithful servant,'” Melissa said in the post, referring to Matthew 25:23. “Jon fought cancer so hard, but more importantly, Jon lived his life so well. We are so proud of him, and know God is even more proud. We can’t wait to be reunited with him in heaven one day. What a glorious day that will be.”

Jonathan worked at The Ringer, where he primarily covered the NBA. He wrote a piece titled “The Long Night of the Soul” about his diagnosis and the role his faith played when he was forced to face his own mortality. Outside of his work with The Ringer, Jonathan had a personal blog where he often wrote about the Bible. The most recent post is an extensive summary of the Book of Isaiah.

People from across the sports media world who knew Jonathan posted tributes on social media and shared what he meant to them.

Jonathan joined the Sports Spectrum Podcast in October 2021. During the interview, he talked about the ways his faith was being tested and the comfort it was providing him despite everything he was going through. He compared the foundational aspects of the Christian faith to a playbook for a sports team. Believing God is good when everything is going well is one thing. Continuing to trust in God in the midst of such difficult circumstances is an entirely different type of challenge.

“It’s almost like these are things you’ve been given as, like, a playbook for when your life gets hard,” he said on the podcast. “But when it actually does happen, you actually have to follow the plays, right? Because you don’t want to at that point. You don’t want to at all.”

Details regarding a celebration of Jonathan’s life are still being finalized. Donations to his family can be made through their GoFundMe account. Please join us in praying for the Tjarks family.

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