Hi Maureen. I have struggled long and hard over questions like the one you raise. And i have found a sense of peace regarding some answers, which may not be a guarantee of correctness, but it sure helps live with the uncertainty,
Suppose the purpose of God in creation is to develop a family of eternally intimate children who will learn to “walk by faith”, in this life. But for faith to exist, the possibility of not having “faith” (in the Biblical sense) must be very real and available.
And suppose His nature is perfect love, (which we can know from His Book); that is what He wants to develop in us, and it requires the ability to freely choose to return His love for us, or reject it.
Suppose He has perfect knowledge, in advance, of every decision that every person will make in their entire lives. Then He knows who will choose, in the end of their life, to be with Him forever, or not. Yet, though He knows who will respond to His love and who will reject His love, ultimately, we don’t.
Suppose He loves every person He creates and wants them to be with Him for eternity, but not if He has to “force” them – He will give the final choice to each person whether or not they come to want Him more than anything else in the world, just as He loves them more than anything else in the world.
So then, with His inspiration and guidance and empowerment, we can either submit to His drawing us to Himself, or continue to resist Him until death. And, though He loves us all equally, because that is His nature, He will grant unending Life (connected to Him) to only those who really want it, and will grant to others complete separation, in the end, from the only real Source of Life, Christ.
Thus, “free will” and “predestination” are both true. But we don’t fully experience predestination in our lives, since we don’t have all knowledge (like He does), and so we only experience “free will”. When we are fully “saved” we will know that it was only His grace and mercy that rescued us from our self-obsession and tendency toward self-destruction.
“The lost” will be treated with the utmost fairness, in terms of punishment, since they reject the forgiveness and mercy in Christ, given freely. And they will then be “banished” with compassion, even as Jesus wept over the Jerusalem He knew would soon have to be destroyed for their rejection of their Messiah.
Within these ideas is a peace that is beyond my previous understanding. Hope it somehow helps.