This Sunday, I was talking with a friend from church. His wife is struggling with cancer. The big “C” has been dominating everything at their house from doctor’s appointments to household chores. Nothing is normal. To be honest, I hardly know what to say to him. In some ways, he would find it easier to struggle with the disease himself than to watch his wife wrestling with it. His situation is painful in a way that defies my ability to describe.

But it seemed to be meaningful to him that I am praying for them, that I care about them, and that I am willing to stand and listen as he tries to put the situation into words.

You won’t have to teach the Bible very long before you will run into the real life pain of your group members. Some will struggle with a failing marriage, a wayward child, or the loss of a job. Others, with the loss of a parent or a difficult illness. But people in your group will face difficult times. Like me, you may wonder what to say. Here are my suggestions:

Your presence matters more than what you say. Somehow, when we enter into the lives of people we get to teach, we represent Christ to them. The ministry of our presence in their lives is a reminder of the presence of Christ, and it is hugely important. Be present when you can. Listen. Express love. Offer prayer.

Avoid trite “theological” responses to their situation. Statements like, “She’s in a better place now,” or “You’ll find a better job,” may have some truth to them, they are hardly helpful when someone is struggling with their own pain. Resist the tendency to “devotionalize” the pain of your members.

Cry with them. This is what Jesus seems to do when he arrives at the home of Mary and Martha after Lazarus has died (John 11). Jesus knew he was going to raise Lazarus from the dead, but he still wept with the mourners.

Remind them of God’s presence and love. Prayers like, “God, I know that you feel our pain. Please allow us to feel your presence as we struggle in this situation” may remind people of how much God cares. The most important answer to the problem of human suffering is a person. God knows; he cares; he is near.

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Personal Timeline Lessons of Ministry Leaders

Kristen Ferguson
Director of Online Education | Associate Professor of Educational Leadership
Dr. Kristen Ferguson serves as the Director of Online Education and associate professor of educational leadership at Gateway Seminary. Her doctoral research at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary investigated evangelical faculty perceptions on online theological education. Her continued research focuses on online course design, blended learning, and online teaching best practices.

The Plain Meaning

Dr. Iorg discusses the simplicity of Bible interrpetation. We cannot let our disobedient hearts guide our interpretation.

Jeff Iorg
Dr. Jeff Iorg is the president of Gateway Seminary. Prior to his service at the Seminary, Dr. Iorg was the Executive Director of the Northwest Baptist Convention for almost ten years. He was also the founding pastor of Greater Gresham Baptist Church in Gresham, Oregon, and has served as a pastor in Missouri and a staff pastor in Texas.


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Uplifted Hand Oracles and Isaiah’s Commission – Isaiah 5b-6 & 9-10a

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Chris Chun
Professor of Church History | Director, Jonathan Edwards Center
Dr. Chris Chun is the professor of Church History and the director of Jonathan Edwards Center at Gateway Seminary. Chris’ doctoral research at St. Andrews University was focused on the eighteenth-century Edwardsean Baptists in Britain. He also has served as president of The Evangelical Theological Society (Far West Region).

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In this episode of Faculty Dialogues, Dr. David Rathel and Dr. Paul Wegner held a live discussion on their views on dispensationalism.

David Rathel
Associate Professor of Christian Theology
Dr. Rathel is the associate professor of Chrisitian Theology at Gateway Seminary. Prior to Gateway, Dr. Rathel supplied pastoral care to churches in the United States and Scotland, served as an Adjunct Professor of Theology and Philosophy for the Baptist College of Florida, and provided teaching assistance for the University of St Andrews.

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