Nabeel Qureshi and the Brevity of Life

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About a month ago, Christian speaker and author Nabeel Qureshi passed away after a year-long battle with stomach cancer. Nabeel was a former Muslim who turned to Christ through an incredible series of events described in his book Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus. His ministry has led many other people to Christ as well.

Nabeel died at age 34. From my perspective, there was so much more that Nabeel could do if he had just lived longer. When I met him a few years ago, he had plans of writing books about a bunch of important topics. But his life ended after writing three books focused on the topic of Islam.

While I wish that Nabeel could have lived longer, my perspective completely changed when I watched Ravi Zacharias give a eulogy about Nabeel’s life. Towards the end, Ravi mentioned how Nabeel’s life was taken at such an early age. But he also said that Nabeel is not the first to go early. Other notable Christians also died very young:

Keith Green – A pianist, singer, and songwriter now inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame. Died at age 28. 

Robert Murray McCheyne – A Scottish minister who created a reading through the Bible program still used today. Died at age 29.

Blaise Pascal – One of the most well-known Christian authors ever. Died at age 39. 

Oswald Chambers – Most known for writing My Utmost for His Highest, a book still widely read today.  Died at age 43.

Henry Martyn – A missionary who translated the Bible into several languages spoken in India. Died at age 31.

Hearing this list caused me to focus on the impact that these peoples’ lives have made, rather than the length of their lives. And it’s the same with Nabeel. I can complain that he didn’t live long enough, or I can be thankful for how God used his life to make a deep impact in the lives of others.

The list also causes me to reflect on my own life. I have all these hopes for the future – that more opportunities for ministry will arise over time, or that I’ll get married some day. But no matter what hopes I have, the fact is I am not guaranteed another day on this earth.

This concept has been running through my head constantly this week. It turns me to focus on what I can do today – be obedient in whatever God has for me right now. It also keeps me in proper perspective – that I am not in complete control of my future, as much as I want to know what is going to happen. And it provokes thankfulness – that each day is a gift, rather than a given.

I am not guaranteed another day on this earth, and Nabeel did not have that guarantee either. But God can use a short life to make a big impact. He did it with Nabeel. He did it with others. And whether our lives are long or short, he can do it with us.

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