An amazing man died this weekend. He had stage 4 (incurable) stomach cancer, and the doctors had put him on palliative care. It wasn’t a big surprise that he died, but it is incredibly sad.
Nabeel Qureshi was born into a devout Muslim family in the US. A Christian friend who he met at university strongly encouraged him to disprove Christianity. Nabeel was desperate to do so: he was full of faith in Allah. Of course he could not prove that Jesus is not the son of God, no matter how hard he tried. He was born again, after finally realising the truth.
He has degrees in medicine, Christian apologetics and religion. He was studying for a doctorate at Oxford University when diagnosed with cancer.
It is painfully unfair that someone so young (34), intelligent and full of faith in God, died. He could have achieved so much more if had lived longer. His daughter would have had a father; his wife a husband.
So many people around the world were praying for a miracle, that he would be healed. It is easy for us as Christians to get angry at God for allowing Nabeel to die. How dare he?
The problem is that we just can’t understand it. Why would God allow this young man to die? Unfortunately, we will only get the answer to this and many other questions, when we too die. Then, as believers, we will be able to ask God face-to-face. I have no doubt that our all-knowing creator had perfectly good reasons for this, and other suffering, to happen… it’s very hard for us to get our heads round it though, right? It just seems so unfair.
We don’t see the full picture, we can’t understand, and sometimes that sucks. We like to believe that we have all the control in our lives: choosing our friends, our jobs, who we marry, how many kids we have and when, where we live, etc. And of course we do have a lot of decisons to make, and responsibilities.
But we never get to choose when or where we are born, who our parents are, and when we die. We like to think of ourselves as masters of our destiny, but ultimately, when it comes to life and death, this is an illusion.
The fact is that every day that we live is a gift from our maker, God. We may rage at his unfairness is taking away young lives, but in reality, we were never promised long, healthy, wealthy lives, without a moment’s pain. Quite the opposite in many cases actually, especially for Christians.
My heart breaks for Nabeel’s family and friends, but thank God for his life. Thank God for our lives, no matter how short or painful they may be. Thank God that he sent his son to die as a sacrifice for us, so that when we die we can live forever with him. Thank God for his love, for hope and for every day that he gives us on Earth.
It’s not all about how long you live, or how many countries you visit, or how many children you have.
Much more important is knowing in your heart, on the last day that you live, where you are going. That you are going to meet your Heavenly Father: the one who loved you even before you were born, the one who send his son to die in your place.
I know that Nabeel had this faith, and that he is happy now in Heaven, probably asking Jesus some of those difficult questions.