What Comfort Can Scripture Offer When My Loved One Died without Professing Christ?

Question from a reader:

My young adult son died in an accident. I don’t know that he repented of his sin, but I know he had a thorough knowledge of God and that he loved and cared for people. Please direct me to Scripture about the possibility of his being with God in Heaven. I am struggling for solid assurance.

Answer from Amy Woodard, EPM staff:

I'm so sorry to hear of your loss, and in particular that you’re not certain that your son is now with Jesus. That hurts deeply. You probably thought he had so much more time to get “right” with God and had so much hope for him. It’s truly difficult for us to “judge” where someone’s heart is with repentance before God. I am thankful that God, the Sovereign Judge knows our hearts and that we can throw ourselves on His seat of mercy and grace and hope that at some point our loved ones had a moment of confession of sins and trust in Jesus’ death and resurrection on their behalf or even that they cried out to Jesus in their last moments on Earth.  It’s so hard to walk through grief when we lose people so dear to us.

We know that God is good, and He is the righteous and perfect Judge, who alone is qualified to judge human hearts. Abraham said in Genesis 18:25, “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” As Randy puts it, this is “a rhetorical question that assumes and demands a ‘yes’ answer.”

Here is a blog post that Randy has written that may offer some help. It has some additional links that may also be encouraging to you.

I can’t imagine the depth of grief you’re experiencing. It must seem as though life has come to a standstill at times, but everyone around you just keeps on living. Grieving is such a long, difficult, and sometimes lonely process. There are different stages of grief and people grieve in different ways. But some of the time none of it makes any sense. Those experiencing grief can have feelings that are all over the map as well as bizarre thoughts at times. I would suggest that you offer yourself a lot of grace in the coming days, months, and years.

Here are some book resources that I hope will be helpful to you. Most of them are written by believers.

Seasons of Sorrow by Tim Challies (specifically about grieving the loss of a son)

When Your Family’s Lost a Loved One by Dave and Nancy Guthrie

A Grief Disguised by Jerry Sittser (This one has been recommended by several as especially helpful.)

The Five Cries of Grief by Merton Strommen

Letter to a Grieving Heart: Comfort and Hope for Those Who Hurt by Billy Sprague

Tear Soup by Chuck DeKlyen, Taylor Bills, and Pat Schwiebert

The Grief Recovery Handbook by John James & Russell Friedman

Holding on to Hope by Nancy Guthrie

Hearing Jesus Speak into Your Sorrow by Nancy Guthrie

I also suggest trying a group such as GriefShare. It can be very helpful to be with others who have experienced a similar loss. Some churches offer grief counseling/support groups. For more information about GriefShare, including how to sign up for their daily emails, please click here.

You asked about some Bible verses, and the ones that I think will bring you some comfort are:

Psalm 34:18 – “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

Isaiah 41:10 – “Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.

Psalm 62:1-2 – “Truly my soul silently waits for God; from him comes my salvation. He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be greatly moved.”

I’m thankful for the truth that God will walk you through the valley of the shadow of death, and that He is faithful and trustworthy to handle all your hurts and loves you.

Praying the Lord’s peace and grace over you today.

Photo by Sixteen Miles Out on Unsplash

Amy Woodard is part of the Eternal Perspective Ministries staff, and works as Randy Alcorn’s personal assistant.