This is truly a troubling question. My parents passed some years ago without the slightest indication that they had placed their faith in Jesus. While it is possible that He savingly came to them in the twilight moments of their earthly existence, I have no concrete reasons to believe this.
How then do I console myself, and what consolation will I find in heaven? Well, for one thing, we do not know much about the nature of eternal separation from God. However, this is little consolation.
Will we eternally grieve for our loved ones? Well, from the Biblical descriptions of heaven, it doesn’t seem likely. But does this require that our regret will be lobotomized or our memory erased, diminishing our humanity?
This doesn’t seem likely, but I admit that I do not have the answer to this dilemma, and I don’t think that Scripture provides one. This means that we must, meanwhile, live in uncertainty and discomfort about the possibility of heavenly grief.
But why doesn’t God give us an answer? While I am assured that He does have a satisfying answer, I think that we are unable to profit from some answers. For example, we are not given any clear Biblical assurances about the fate of children who die prior or after birth. Perhaps there is a good reason for this. If the Bible had revealed that all children who died before an age of accountability would go straight to heaven, we might be righteously tempted to kill our children to insure that they will go to heaven.
Perhaps we cannot positively handle this kind of knowledge. Perhaps this principle also pertains to the fate of our deceased loved ones? In “Handbook of Christian Apologetics,” Peter Kreeft and Ronald Tacelli reason:
· If there are people you love and identify with so deeply that you simply cannot see how you could possibly be happy forever without them…then one of the jobs God may have put you on the earth for is to do everything you can for their salvation. (272)
Perhaps a detailed Biblical explanation why we will not suffer heavenly regret might undermine our motivation to plead our loved ones (and even others) into heaven, as we ought.