Nabeel Qureshi was hands down one of the most beloved apologists of our generation. It wasn’t just because of his extensive knowledge of Islam, but among other reasons, it’s also because he was a very transparent, honest, kind, and loving person. He was a friend to so many of us, and even for those of us who did not know him personally, we certainly felt like we knew him. Many of us prayed deeply as we watched his regular videos in which he discussed his thoughts and battle with cancer. When I say the Apologetic and Christian-world felt the tremors of his death, I don’t say that lightly. Most of us were affected strongly by the death of Nabeel, feeling as though we lost a close friend.
So much can be said about such a great man, but what are some of the takeaways that we as Christians can learn from his death?
1. Not our will Father, but yours be done.
Nabeel suffered virtuously despite wanting so badly to stay here with his wife and daughter. I am around Nabeel’s age, and have a wife and a son around his daughter’s age. So when he would tear up every time he talked about leaving his 2 year old daughter, I almost too strongly empathized with those emotions.
Nevertheless, I also think of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. As Jesus wept, He pleaded to the Father saying, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me!” And then humbly and virtuously, knowing that the Father still wanted Him to go, he added, “Not my will, but your will be done.” Nabeel echoed a similar plea to escape his fate, and similarly accepted that if it’s God’s will, he would be thankful, and love the Lord no less.
2. Through the death of Nabeel, more people will hear the Gospel.
Nabeel was a very respectful and humble man, but that didn’t prevent him from preaching the gospel with an unadulterated passion, intensity, and conviction. It was almost as if he couldn’t help but proudly and boldly declare what he had known to be true. Due to his sickness, and then his death, the gospel message that he preached so passionately has reached far, far more people than it would have, had he not suffered. People saw a man that was so convinced of the truth of Christianity that he was willing to sacrifice not only his strongest friend and family bonds, but even while looking death in the face, he wouldn’t dare compromise his convictions about what he knew was true.
3. We are not special.
I remember watching one of Nabeel’s videos a long time ago, and he was responding to someone that said their faith was shaken by his diagnosis. Nabeel said something that always stuck with me. He said, “first off, I am nobody.” And that is right. None of us are in that way. We are all equal, none are greater in value and worth than anyone else. We are only of value because God has given us value and because Christ loved us enough to die for us. That doesn’t make anyone more valuable than anyone else.
Christ died for the entire world and for all who are willing to accept His offer. An unfortunate side-effect of our current cultural condition is that we tend to think that everything is all about us, when in fact it isn’t. It is all about God. God doesn’t exist to serve us and do our bidding, but rather we exist to serve God and to do His! We must remember that bad things happened (and happened often) to many of the greatest Biblical characters. And this leads to my next point.
4. Our expectations need to stand on the right foundation.
I was saddened to see some Christians have their faith shaken by the death of Nabeel. The only way I can understand getting one’s faith deeply shaken is if their expectations are grounded in something other than the Bible. A common cultural idea is that God created us only to be happy in this life, and if He loves us than He will only allow great things to happen to us. But the Bible, the actual biblical data, sings a very different tune.
Biblically, we have no reason to think our lives will not include great trouble and heartache. We are not promised long lives, health, or happiness. God knows what kinds of lives we want, but more importantly He knows what kind of lives we need. The important thing to remember is that we don’t become Christians in order to have health, wealth, and a good life, but rather to serve and worship the Almighty Creator, and do His will on earth. Even if that will means that we suffer or even die at a young age.
5. We must be very careful what we say is coming from God.
Perhaps, for me, the most upsetting takeaway from the situation was that people were not careful enough when they claimed that God told them that Nabeel would be healed from cancer. As undoubtedly well meaning and sincere as the many who prophesied over Nabeel were, they were utterly mistaken. Claiming that we are hearing things from God should not be something that any Christian takes lightly.
Don’t misunderstand me. God is certainly able to speak to us today. The point is that we ought to be careful in making such bold declarations. In the Old Testament, one would be killed for saying that God said something that He didn’t! I pray this reminds us that our trust and faith in God should be founded on what He has revealed to us in Holy Scripture; the objective facts confirm that God is talking to us through His Word.
Words don’t quite do justice the wonderful and powerful (and short) life that Nabeel led. God used his testimony, life, sickness, and even death, to spread the message of the truth of Christianity out to thousands, if not millions, of people. God had a special purpose for Nabeel’s life, and I thank God for Him blessing us with such a loving and faithful servant who embodied what it meant to have both truth, honestly, transparency, and love.
Nabeel, you are now in the presence of our Lord and Savior, the risen Jesus Christ. You got there before us, and all of us are right behind you. See you on the other side of eternity, friend. Until then.