Lisa Appelo is a single mom to 7 and young widow. She's a speaker and blogger who shares soul-deep encouragement for the adventure of faith at LisaAppelo.com. She recently authored Countdown to Christmas: Unwrap the Christmas Story with Your Family in 15 Days.You can connect with Lisa on Instagram and Facebook.
I’ve worked out so many hard questions with God over these last six years. As hard as Dan’s death has been for me and our children, for the most part I’ve been at peace with God’s will and His sovereignty.
In fact, I’ve begged God not just to help me accept his will, but to agree with it. And in time, I believe God will answer that as he opens my eyes to understand his truth and conforms my heart like his.
For us, I’ve less often asked why? and more often asked what now? God in His kindness answers that question not for a lifetime or for this year, but for today.
This week, though, I’ve been mulling over old questions of why God allows some so young to die. When I learned of Nabeel Qureshi’s death at 34, and learned even more of his amazing testimony and ministry, like many of you I wondered — why did God allow Nabeel Qureshi to die so young? So capable.
Nabeel had a powerful testimony. He was doing great work. He had an amazing mind and a passion to see people come to Christ. He was a young husband and a new father.
He could do so much for God. Why let him die at such a young age?
Nabeel’s death causes us to step back and wonder — what are you doing God? Why this one?
Maybe you’ve asked that in your own life or your own grief — what are you doing, God? Why?
While even our collective finite minds fall short of fully knowing the infinite purposes of God, we can know these 3 things about Nabeel Qureshi’s death.
1. Death for the believer is not a tragedy.
It is loss for those who mourn. It is painful for those left – the wives and children, the mothers and fathers, siblings and friends. But it is gain for the believer.
As a believer, Nabeel never tasted death. He went from life to life.
“I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.” John 11:25-26
As believers, we have a promise from Jesus that because of him we will never die. If we’re gone from this body on earth, we’re at home with the Lord.
This doesn’t dismiss the pain of mourning. It is gut-wrenching and physical. I’m already praying for Nabeel’s wife and daughter.
But we grieve with hope. This separation isn’t forever and we live looking forward to seeing loved ones again in eternity.
2. Death for the believer is never untimely.
He was so young, we argue. Couldn’t he be home the Lord when he was 90? He had so much he still could have done for the Lord.
If we believe Nabeel’s death was untimely – too early – we must picture God in heaven, wringing his hands because one of his children left earth without completing the work God had for him.
God is sovereign over time, his purposes and the length of our lives.
Because of that, each of us has the perfect amount of time to accomplish exactly what God has for us in our lifetime.
We may squander that time. We may procrastinate or never take that first step in faith to walk out that work. But if we abide in Christ, we can trust that God has measured the precise amount of time needed to accomplish the ministry he has for us.
3. Death for the believer leaves a legacy.
The impact of a believer never ends with his death.
“Surely the righteous will never be shaken; they will be remembered forever.” Psalm 112:6
This week, we grieved a friend’s father who passed away at 86. He leaves an enormous legacy – teens discipled under him, missionaries supported and sent by him, scores of men taught by him, children and grandchildren following Jesus like him.
This seems fitting for someone who had decades to sow and labor for Christ. But what about the young believer who died so young?
Read the devotional My Utmost for His Highest? Oswald Chambers died at 43.
Heard of Jim Elliot’s work with the Auca? He died at 28.
Keith Green, the gospel singer songwriter, was 28.
David Brainerd, the missionary to Native Americans, was 29.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the Lutheran martyr, was 39.
Nate Saint, the missionary jungle pilot, was 32.
Rich Mullins, the contemporary songwriter and missionary, was 41.
Robert Murray M’Cheyne, the great Scottish preacher, was 29.
And Jesus was 33.
Their lives have ended, yet their influence has flourished.
The impact of their ministry has far outlasted the length of their lives.
Now another name has been added to the list. Just this week, hundreds of thousands across the globe heard about a young Muslim man who gave up all to follow Christ. In the paradox of God, I have no doubt that God will continue to multiply the ministry of Nabeel Qureshi even in his death.
Our job is to faithfully trust. God’s job is to bring fruit. And the glory is that God does that not only in our life, but in our death.
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