My best friend was not saved, so I told him we could never get married. We remained platonic friends for years. He died recently, and I am heartbroken and inconsolable. Now I wish I had married him because he died alone. I don’t even know if he is in Heaven. Will God give me a chance to be with him in Heaven some day? We could have been very happy, but I wanted to be obedient.
I’m so sorry to hear about your best friend. You are in a vulnerable space as you grieve and process this loss. There’s a quote attributed to Elisabeth Elliot that says, “Don’t dig up in doubt what you planted in faith.” It sounds like you chose in faith to be obedient to the Lord, and in His kingdom obedience is never wasted. I’m so sorry that this didn’t all work out the way you would have hoped, but Jesus can be trusted to carry your heart through this loss. And He promises to compensate us in eternity for whatever we gave up to follow Him: “Jesus said, ‘Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life’” (Mark 10:29-30).
Still, it’s so hard when we don’t know if someone we love came to faith before death. Randy writes this:
What might help you personally on this—and I have reassured myself about this many times—is to realize that we do not know what happens inside a person before they die. We don’t know whether the Holy Spirit of God has done a work of grace in someone’s heart and life at the last moment. They may have been aware of the hours, minutes, and even just seconds leading up to their death and cried out to God for deliverance. The thief on the cross proves that “deathbed conversion” is certainly possible. And if someone is unable to speak, or too weak to respond, those around them would not know of that conversion. We may be surprised and delighted to one day see them in the presence of Christ. Now, that should not be a false assurance for us to say to ourselves about our unbelieving loved ones, “Then it doesn’t really matter whether I share the gospel with them, because maybe God will do a miracle in their lives shortly before they die.” Of course not—we should do everything we can to bring them the truth. But once someone has died, I think it’s appropriate to say, “I don’t know. Maybe they did come to faith in Christ, and if so, one day I will see them in God’s Kingdom.”
May you experience the love and peace of Jesus in a personal way in these coming days.
Photo by dan carlson on Unsplash
Stephanie Anderson is the communications and graphics specialist at Eternal Perspective Ministries.