As I reflected this week on what it meant to “live between the songs,” I saw Sunday morning that Nabeel Qureshi had passed away. If you don’t know who Nabeel is, he was a wonderful apologist, a medical doctor, a New York Times bestselling author, a husband, and a father.
And he was 34 when he died after a yearlong battle with cancer.
I remember hearing Nabeel last year when the ministry I work for hosted Together 2016. Nabeel spoke to more than a hundred thousand people that day on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
A few weeks after Nabeel spoke at our event, he learned he had stage 4 stomach cancer. Yet I don’t think he would have changed the words he spoke that day:
If you are a Christian, it means you are going to live for eternity. It means you are taken care of. If you trust in what Jesus did on the cross for you, you will be fine forever. But your neighbor who does not know Christ, his needs or her needs are infinitely greater than yours.
Thousands prayed for his healing. Yet in the last video he published, he wanted everyone to know his motivation for his life was the love of God. His heart was set on loving and serving others until the end.
When the Song Ends
How are Christians supposed to take Nabeel’s death? As a cosmic misstep? As the result of too little faith? No, but instead as a confirmation of two realities: God has delivered us from sin and death, and God has not yet fully delivered us from sin and death.
On one hand, we have limitless rejoicing, knowing God has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus, who “abolished death and brought life and immortality through the Gospel” (2 Timothy 1:10).
But death is the enemy that hasn’t yet been fully destroyed (1 Corinthians 15:26), and we groan with creation as we wait for fulfillment of all of God’s promises (Romans 8:19-23).
This is what it means to live between the songs.
- We’ve been adopted by God, but we haven’t been brought home yet.
- We’ve been promised a heavenly inheritance, but we haven’t received it yet.
- We’ve been sealed with the Holy Spirit, but we haven’t been perfected yet.
[bluebox]So we hope. As Paul said, “If we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience” (Romans 8:25).
We wait patiently, knowing, “When He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:2-3)
And in the meantime, we’re called to live. We’re called to embrace each moment as a note in the song God is singing through our lives—“For me to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21).[/bluebox]
We live between the songs, a song of earthly deliverance and a song of heavenly deliverance. And here we are—caught between songs, caught between worlds. We hear the far off, distant, already-not-yet melodies of heaven. We see in a mirror dimly. We know in part, but then we shall know fully, even as we are fully known.
And so we sing. We hope. We live. And we love.
I don’t have that much time to talk, but this is what I want us to take home: God loves us that much—to die on the cross for our sins. But then He also says to us, ‘As I have loved You, so love one another.’
Thank you for pointing us back to our hope and call to live in Jesus, Nabeel. May we live lives worthy of the name we carry.