On the morning of Saturday, September 16th, the Christian Community took a hard blow when we got the news that our friend and apologetics colleague, Nabeel Qureshi, had passed away after a year-long battle with stomach cancer.
You may wonder why it was a blow if we knew he had it for the past year. It was a blow because thousands of us prayed for God to heal him because he was only 34, had a wife and a 3 year-old daughter, and was one of the most effective and loved apologists on the planet. We expected a miracle. Each week, Nabeel’s friends waited impatiently for each Vlog update, knowing that we would see his undying trust and faithfulness to Jesus, an update on his medical condition, and an ending in prayer to the God in which he trusted his very soul.
Since Nabeel was a former Muslim, his conversion story touched many Muslim people. He was an author and speaker who loved Jesus with all his heart, a bold and great communicator, and a valuable instrument of God. For these reasons, his death seemed gratuitous. None of us can understand why God would allow Nabeel to die. It doesn’t make any sense when someone like him was so useful to the Kingdom of God here on earth. Nabeel was a medical doctor, had an MA in Christian Apologetics, an MA in Religion and was going for his PhD at Oxford when he was diagnosed. Why did God give Nabeel so much talent and experience, then not allow him to use it for a longer period of time?
Anyone who has trusted in Jesus Christ for a period of years, knows that there have been times when we have prayed for something, to which God’s answer has been “no.” When this happens, it is necessary to guard ourselves against our own self-reliance—when we depend too much on our own ability to understand our earthly circumstances rather than trusting that God knows what He is doing. This can create a barrier between us, and God because we think He has betrayed us. When we pressure God to help us understand, and He doesn’t, this is dangerous territory. This is why we need to remember Proverbs 3:5-6—trusting in the Lord and not leaning on our own understanding.
Moreover, if God did everything the way we wanted, there would be no need for faith. His presence would be plainly obvious. Paul reminds us in Romans 8:24 that “Hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has?”
The reality is that God hasn’t given us all the information we need to understand all of our trials here on earth. He is God—holy and sovereign, and accountable to no one. He does not exist to serve us. It is the other way around. Sometimes He doesn’t do everything in the way we would like. Years may pass before we see His purpose. But then again, He may not reveal it to us at all. This is where He says, “Trust me.”
Nabeel understood this. He prayed for the best but testified that whatever God decided, he would “love Him anyway.” Nabeel knew the character of Jesus. He knew that Jesus was with him, and came alongside him every step of his sickness. He was a great example to all of us on how to face a trial and remain in peace and faithful to our Lord. His faith was unshakable to the very end.
His friend and mentor Ravi Zacharius prays this,
“May we hear God’s voice reminding us that the disease that kills the body is minor. The disease that kills the soul is eternal. Nabeel would want more than anything else that we carry that message of Jesus to help change the world. Only then can we understand that the sad news of Nabeel’s death is temporary. The good news of his life is eternal.”
The reward for the faithful is this, the crown of righteousness for those who have fought the good fight, finished the race, and kept the faith (2 Tim. 4:7-8). Wear it well Nabeel.