Question: "How can I find comfort when an unsaved loved one has died?"
Answer: For the believer, the death of an unsaved loved one is very difficult. Sometimes it seems we will never find comfort or peace of mind when we know the destiny awaiting the unsaved. When a saved loved one dies, we miss him, but we do not grieve "as others who have no hope" (1 Thessalonians 4:13), because we know we will be reunited in heaven one day.
But for those who die without Christ, we know we will not see them again, and finding comfort in that situation is very difficult.
Especially for those who have taken great pains to communicate Gospel truths to their loved ones, there is associated with this situation a pain that asks "why?" As Christians, we wonder how anyone could refuse such a precious gift. Our joy in the Lord moves us to want that same joy for others. However, the truth is that even though the invitation is open to all, some will not receive the gift. But we can take comfort, encouragement, and assurance in the truth that even though we may never see our loved one again, God is always faithful and just. It is amazing to understand that God is so patient and leaves the door open for so long.
"Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right" (Genesis 18:25)? This is a great comfort to those of us with loved ones who have passed into eternity and we are not sure of the destination of their souls. God is a sovereign Judge of righteousness, full of grace and mercy to all who call upon Him. It is His very justice that offers a "way" for all to escape the judgment of His righteousness, and it is in that justice that we must rest. It is grace that saves us, and it is grace in which we must stand when we go through the double grief of the death of an unsaved loved one. We must remember that we cannot make this choice for anyone else, and if they went into eternity without Christ, that was their choice in spite of the offer of grace.
Although we may have pain in the remembrance of that loved one while we are in this life and go through the grief process, there will come a time when each born-again believer will be with the Lord. In that day "God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away" (Revelation 21:4). We cannot comprehend how that will be because we live in time and are constrained by our finite minds. However, just the thought of that is enough to bring comfort and encouragement. When we see the Lord, all of the sorrow we have now will disappear. "You now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you" (John 16:22). In the meantime, we can lean on the everlasting arms of God, who feels our pain and comforts us with His great love and mercy.