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Nabeel Qureshi’s cancer diagnosis – a morning reflection

Sad news seems to have a habit of reaching me in the morning. I think it’s coincidence but I can’t help but notice the pattern. I remember my mum waking me in the morning to tell me that my Grandad had died. Flicking through Facebook like reading the morning newspaper, I read touching posts and tributes to a friend who had suffered a cardiac arrest after fighting a long illness. This morning, I once again flicked through social media (Twitter this time) to find out that Christian speaker and writer Nabeel Qureshi had been diagnosed with advanced stomach cancer.

(I wrote about him in a previous blog post: The Timid Evangelist)

He announced it via Facebook and I read it through a tweet from Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM) who Nabeel has worked for, but is subsequently stepping down from. I really appreciate his work and passion in telling others about Jesus. Nabeel posted the following message on social media:

Dear Friends and Family,

This is an announcement that I never expected to make, but God in His infinite and sovereign wisdom has chosen me for this refining, and I pray He will be glorified through my body and my spirit. My family and I have received the news that I have advanced stomach cancer, and the clinical prognosis is quite grim. Nonetheless, we are going to pursue healing aggressively, both medical and miraculous, relying on God and the fact that He is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.

In the past few days my spirits have soared and sank as I pursue the Lord’s will and consider what the future might look like, but never once have I doubted this: that Jesus is Lord, His blood has paid my ransom, and by His wounds I am healed. I have firm faith that my soul is saved by the grace and mercy of the Triune God, and not by any accomplishment or merit of my own. I am so thankful that I am a child of the Father, redeemed by the Son, and sealed in the Spirit. No, in the midst of the storm, I do not have to worry about my salvation, and for that I praise you, God.

Unfortunately this means I am no longer able to engage in traveling ministry for the time being. I am canceling almost all my speaking events, with a few exceptions. From this point on until such a time as the Lord might choose to heal me, I intend to blog or vlog about my journey with cancer, transparently offering my heart, thoughts, and struggles in case they might encourage others and glorify God. I will no longer be with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, though it has been an absolute privilege to be on the team for the past 3 years. My third book, No God But One: Allah or Jesus?, launched today, and I still intend to write my next book, 20 Questions Muslims Ask and the Answers that Convert Them. Beyond that, the Lord knows.

Friends and family, may I ask you to fast and pray fervently for my healing? I do not profess to know the will of the Lord, but many of my close friends and confidants are convinced that this is a trial through which the Lord intends to bring me alive and refined. May His will be done, and may I invite you to seek Him in earnest, on your knees, fasting on my behalf, asking our Yahweh Rapha for healing in Jesus’ name.

And as you pray and fast, “I will rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, this will turn out for my deliverance, as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death.” (Philippians 1:18-20)

For His Glory,

Processing this news filled me with deep sadness. I have worked within the Oncology department at my local hospital for just over a year and as many of my readers will know, I have also experienced cancer – it never gets any easier to read or listen to.

Nabeel is a fantastic and engaging speaker, with a great sense of humour and a gentle and respectful manner. Although I am sad he has to step back from RZIM, I know he will continue to passionately share the good news of Jesus with others.

When it looks impossible, God is with us

‘God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.’1 Corinthians 1:27

Throughout the bible, there were people who God used in a powerful way that would seem foolish, unwise and weak to our limited understanding. He worked in the life of a young shepherd boy names David to defeat Goliath. He used a baby called Moses who ended up being raised in the rich and royal household of Pharaoh, to then leave it all and lead God’s people out of slavery from Egypt. Many of the disciples of Christ were uneducated – some were fishermen, yet they spoke powerfully, led transformed lives and demonstrated God’s love because it was the living God who was at work in them.

The point that resonates most with me this morning, however, is that the Son of God, Jesus Christ, willingly laid aside what was rightfully His – all glory, honour, praise and majesty – to become a Saviour for the brokenness in the world.

The crucifixion was an outrageous, cruel way to die for anyone, let alone the Son of God.

 ‘He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.’ John 1:10-11

At the moment that Jesus died, the disciples must have been beside themselves with grief, loss and sadness. Even though we can look to the historical accounts of the resurrection today to know that Christ was raised from the dead three days later, on the day that He died, it would have seemed a bleak thing. Hindsight is a wonderful gift!

In the eyes of the world, Jesus could not have been who He claimed to be because He experienced death. Why didn’t God save Himself? Jesus was mocked and told that if He was who He said He was, why didn’t He save Himself from this embarrassingly painful death?

There was a life-changing, world-shattering, eternity-awaiting promise that He was ultimately fulfilling.

Jesus came to earth to save sinners and to bring a broken world back in reconciliation with God. I can imagine God saying the following:

‘These people (all of humanity) are worth it. I know them individually. I love them. There is nothing they can do apart from trust me. I give them new life through Jesus my precious Son whose perfect life covers every wrong, broken, shameful thing they’ve ever done. All of the suffering that has been experienced since the beginning of time will eventually be made right. For those who continue to ignore me and refuse to turn away from living a life in the pursuit of self, they have already made a choice to live a life apart from the living God. Each person can choose to live or die – I have prepared a place for those that choose life found in the Son of God who died for them.’

God moulds and shapes our character in all of the trials and tribulations that we encounter. He is not a stranger to suffering because He suffered for us. What deity could claim to love His people so much that He would lay down His life for each person?

Nabeel Qureshi will continue to proclaim the same good news he has shared when speaking across the globe. It may be through blogging, vlogging and writing, but he knows that there is Someone greater who has gone before him; a God who has suffered and has been raised from the dead. We have hope because there is a risen, living God. Our faith would be worthless without the resurrection – what hope is there in life without it?

I will be praying for Nabeel and his family, and I know without a doubt that God works through every situation for the good of those that love Him. He will not leave Nabeel through this time, He will guide and sustain him through every step. And Nabeel’s Facebook post speaks confidence in a God that he truly knows.

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