Francis Pirness | The Voice of Zion October 2023 - Home and Family Article --
When you think about your life and how often your faith has carried you through trials or circumstances, isn’t it a marvel that God has continually offered an abundance of grace and mercy to an obedient one? God has promised to never abandon his faithful children. Hebrews 11:1 reads, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
This verse brings me comfort in that living faith is not of our minds and reason. Faith allows us to dwell in the world daily yet not partake of all it has to offer. Even weak faith may be resilient against the doubts that the enemy tries to ensnare us with, doubts that make our journey difficult.
I was reminded of this five years ago when my wife and I received shocking news that we were expecting triplets. At the time we already had five young children at home. This surprise was met with excitement, trepidation and many questions. Would these three babies survive? How would the pregnancy go for my wife? What would this mean for our family which would almost double in size overnight? How will we care for everyone and everything at home? Can we get a new car? Faith taught me once again to set my worries aside and trust in the mighty hand of our heavenly Father.
The shock of the news gradually wore off and reality set in. I had this one recurring thought that God is all-knowing and has a plan for our family and for these precious little babies. I can put my trust in Him. If we were to trust with our own strength, the worries and concerns would be endless – and without resolve.
As everything progressed, we were reminded at every moment that God was caring for us. We were carried in love and prayer by God’s children with the excitement of this event in our life and countless offers of help. The doctors and specialists that we met with mentioned the miracle of such a seamless pregnancy and commented that this could have only gone so well with the hand of God. It was beyond anything they could accomplish with their own knowledge. Even in this way God cared for us.
When the time of the triple-birth approached, we marveled at God’s creation and simply waited. All along we couldn’t help the joy in our hearts mixed with our own worries.
As I think back over the time of the pregnancy and many appointments, I can only give thanks to God that through the eyes of faith I am able to see all the blessings we experienced. None of our worries were needed. God had a plan for us all along and we were given three healthy little boys. Since then, we have been blessed with two more children.
We watch our family grow, and our fervent prayer is that we and our children will remain in living faith until the day our journey ends and we reach our eternal home in heaven.
Faith, despite Depression
The darkness weighs heavily over my mind as I plod through another day. I wish that even for a small moment, the depression and anxiety would go away, and I could have peace and calm.
However, the depression is there even in the middle of a crowd. It’s not seen outwardly, but it’s felt deep inside me. The medications I take daily do help, but at times it’s hard to keep laughing, and to keep a smile on my face.
Prayers rise from my heart, please help my mind to calm down, and the darkness to lift for a short while so I can take one more step forward. I know – and trust – that God will only give me what He knows I can handle.
Some days are more peaceful than others, but every day I cling to the thought that if I can remain believing my sins forgiven and keep faith foremost in my heart, I will reach that peaceful shore of heaven where this trial will no longer make my days heavy and dark.
With that thought, peace, once again, enters my mind and heart for a short time.
In Every Stage of Life, Keep Faith
In January of this year, I received the gift of a believing spouse. Braden Muhonen and I got to know each other in recent years by having mutual friends and attending church gatherings, including summer services and Peace Gardens. We began courting in the fall and after really getting to know each other we fell in love. We were engaged six weeks later, and our wedding date was set for January 14. It was such a happy time, full of excitement and awe of this new and unexpected life change!
It was also a whirlwind because it happened so quickly. We felt clearly that it was God’s plan. The support of the believers all around us amazed us. Braden was 33 years old and had been wondering if he would be given a wife. Many believers, even those that weren’t very close to him, approached us, saying they had sent those silent prayers that, God willing, we would each be granted a spouse. It’s beautiful how even in this way, believers carry each other in love and prayer when we aren’t even aware of it.
Soon into our marriage, both of Braden’s paternal grandparents, Sylvia and Walter Muhonen, passed away at the age of 95 years old after being married for 74 years. In those last days of Walter’s life, as family and friends sang around his bed, Sylvia gave her sweet smile to Walter and the love in their gaze brought tears to my eyes. Braden and I conversed during that time about the lessons we can learn from them and other elders. One is that when we are obedient to God; He will bless our marriage and our lives together.
Seeing the love in a marriage of 74 years encourages us to take care of matters and most importantly, to serve each other as God has taught us. We do this for preservation of our marriage and also so that, one day, we can make it to our heavenly home.
The Congregation Supports Faith
The Bible tells us what faith is: “The substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1). It also tells us how it comes: “By hearing and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17).
God provides us with believers as escorts on our faith journey. They are concerned with our faith life, preach the gospel to us and provide a listening ear when spiritual help is needed. COVID-19 taught us about the need for fellowship. During COVID, life felt more difficult, perhaps because we were unable to attend church. The online services helped, but the contact with other believers suffered. Attending church regularly supports our faith life.
In addition to hearing God’s Word at services, other activities support faith life. There are many camps we can attend. Work in the kingdom is always available as there are endless jobs to be done. It is truly a joy to work with other believers at camps, in building projects and helping to maintain the church. It may be difficult to find time to attend camps or work at them, but we have always found that once we are there, we enjoy the fellowship and are happy we went.
The Voice of Zion has many articles that support faith life. Others share their trials and experiences about their personal walk of faith. For us, these shared experiences are uplifting, showing how others have met trials and how some have come into faith.
As I think about having faith, a certain experience comes to mind. When the 1973 heresy had left Ishpeming believers without a church, we bought an existing church building in Negaunee, Mich. Not many years later, the congregation had outgrown the church and wanted to build a new church.
Over time we found two lots that might serve us, but these lots were not the best. Still, we needed a church, so we placed a bid on the small lot of land. As owners, the township board discussed selling to our congregation, but rejected our high bid because they wanted a tax-paying owner instead of a tax-exempt church to add revenue to the township.
The second lot was a strip of land with a small hill on it. Due to building codes, we would have had to put an elevator in the church building. Our offer was not accepted.
As we discussed the land negotiation, another piece of land came on the market. It had plenty of space for a new building and everything else we needed including a parking lot, playground, and baseball field. We made an offer, it was accepted and within days the owner of the property with the hill notified us that they accepted our low offer – but we already had the lot we wanted, the lot God had provided.
God guided our search. Our plans and attempts to purchase land for our church were blocked again and again. God had a better plan. Faith is strengthened when we reflect on how God guides His congregation.
Questions for Discussion
Trials in life can make our journeys slow, our footsteps heavy. What are some burdens that people experience, yet others may not see?
What can the individual who is feeling a burden do to alleviate the pain and weight?
How can the outlook of faith aid one in trials? What are some things that we escorts can do to help and comfort?
Organizations sometimes offer support groups and therapies for those who experience life’s burdens. In what ways are sermons and songs therapy? Is there a type of group we could create that might aid the hurting in a more specific way?
Can we imagine what our congregations can do to facilitate friendships and help everyone know that they have a place to serve together with us all?