Why Doesn’t God Always Heal? Nabeel and Others Who Die too Young

Nabeel and David Wood

It’s been about two weeks since Nabeel Qureshi, after a year-long battle with stomach cancer, went to be with the Lord.

This brilliant author, apologist and friend of many of us at the Colson Center was raised a devout Muslim. He loved to debate Christians, whom he often found unable to defend their beliefs. But it was in college that a knowledgeable friend challenged him to investigate the claims of Christianity.

Nabeel then encountered a God he’d never expected—a Heavenly Father who loved him and fully accepted him because of the work of Jesus Christ.

And as a result, Nabeel embraced a new mission—to share Jesus with as many as possible, especially to Muslims. He wrote books, spoke, debated. He was a walking, talking example of that rare type of Christian he finally encountered in college. One that was ready to give an answer to anyone who asked for the hope that he had found. Our prayers go out for his wife, Michelle, and their young daughter, Ayah.

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Many of us spent the last year praying for Nabeel. Not only because we knew him and loved him, but because of the incredible way he was using the sizeable platform that God had granted him.

At Nabeel’s memorial service, his mentor Ravi Zacharias described the incredible story of his protégé this way: “This abnormally born, abnormally torn, abnormally scorned man is now abnormally gone. Gone at such an early age in life, so what I say to you is this: He’s not the only one who’s died young.”

When I learned of Nabeel’s passing, in fact, I immediately thought of Blaise Pascal, the brilliant French mathematician whose masterful apologetic work was interrupted by his death at age 39. Why would God allow someone so young and so influential for the kingdom to die?

In our answer, I think it’s important to acknowledge both what we can say, and what we can’t say. As my BreakPoint This Week co-host Ed Stetzer put it in our conversation on last week’s podcast, we don’t know the specific reason God made this decision about Nabeel’s life. Silly platitudes like “God needed him more than we do” are theologically backwards, and tossing around what I call Romans 8:28 bombs only dismiss the real hurt the death of a loved one entails.


And that tells us something we can say, that the world is, as Neal Plantinga put it, not the way it’s supposed to be. The loss that we feel points to that. Death is not only abhorrent, it’s an aberration from the way that life is supposed to be as God created it. And we sense that.

In fact, I’ll simply quote Nabeel here. He wrote, “Jesus is the God of reversal and redemption. He redeemed sinners to life by his death, and he redeemed a symbol of execution by repurposing it for salvation.”

This reversal transforms even death itself, which has been “swallowed up in victory.” Nabeel now knows more fully than any of us the meaning of the Apostle Paul’s words: “To live is Christ and to die is gain.” His departure is grief for us, but complete joy for him. He is with the Savior he met years ago while searching for Allah.

We should also remember that human life belongs to God. Our western illusion of control is just that, an illusion. We have no more claim on another person’s time here on this earth than we do our own. Whatever years we have are a gift, and the God who numbers our days is the only one who knows how many we have left.

And so like Pascal and Nabeel, we should be men and women on a mission. As Chuck Colson said—“living every day as if it’s [our] last, knowing by God’s grace and love, the Savior waits for [us] beyond the grave.”

Amen. In the meantime, we mourn. But we recommit to “lay aside every weight and run with endurance the race before us,” no matter how long or how short that race will be.


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  • Hebrewsthirteenfive

    First thing God did not kill them, Satan did. How is it that so many Christians do not know that it is Satan that comes to steal, kill, and destroy ? Yes, I hear you now…”but God could stop him if he wanted to”…no he can not without breaking his word for freedom of choice. BUT you say…”they were Christians so why didn’t God protect them…” He did, he has already provided it, but they did not know how to receive his protection. His protection that has already been provided. Jesus paid for our healing at the same time he paid for our sins. By his stripes we were (passed tense…not future tense) healed. You have to understand and believe this just as you have to understand Jesus paying for your sins as your ticket to salvation. Most churches teach salvation but not that we are healed and must stand against the attacks of Satan. We must bind and rebuke him and not let symptoms cause us to doubt the word of God. Good , awesome Christians die for lack of this knowledge. God said “My people perish for lack of knowledge”. He is not talking about some new medicine or procedure..if he were he would have said the world perishes for lack of knowledge. Go watch “Jesus paid for our healing” on YouTube by Barry Bennett. Excellent !

    • Satan can not do anything without Gods Permission.

      • Hebrewsthirteenfive

        God gave Adam the authority to rule this earth, Adam gave it to Satan. Romans 6:16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his
        servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of
        obedience unto righteousness? Jesus took the authority Satan had gotten from Adam back. Now he only has authority over those who are not born again children of . God can not take back the authority he gave to Adam without breaking his word. Legally Satan has authority in this world to steal, kill, and destroy. Christians can stop him by speaking the word to him. Most Christians think they have no authority given to them by Jesus and also think that God can stop Satan whenever he wants to. God has already provided for us to stop him if we will and understand our authority. So Satan does have permission and we have authority over him now because of Jesus. We have a duty to know these things clearly written in the bible but many are too lazy to study and to deceived by the false teaching of men to see the truth. They have a form of Godliness but deny the power thereof. The bible says these signs shall follow those who believe…why are we not seeing these signs ? because of unbelief and false teaching which is rampant in the churches.

        • Ok, Buddy. I will ad you to my prayers for discernment. I see you have none, because if you did, you would know I am baptized with the Holy Ghost and Fire. I learn from God Himself, Not man. You should do the same… You would also know that I am a pastor in a Hostile Hindu Country, preaching the Gospel at the risk of death and imprisonment. If you had discernment, the Holy Ghost would have revealed all this to you. Let your yays be yays and your nays be nays….

          • Hebrewsthirteenfive

            🙂 if you were being led by the Holy Spirit you would know the word when you hear it. I am filled with the Holy Spirit and fire and called to hold all who claim to be Christian’s to the true gospel, not a man made one. You need to listen to those who do know the word and the Lord..not just know about it. Kenneth Hagin is on YouTube, a true man of God. Listen to his sermons and you will know how much you don’t know.