A Bulwark Never Failing
Salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks. -- Isa. 26:1
A man stood in the dust-clouded street looking at the ruined church. The people who lived in the neighborhood were poor, but a few years earlier they had rebuilt their worn-out sanctuary and made it beautiful. Now it was ruined. The windows were gone. The doors had been torn off their hinges and tossed like paper before a storm. The beautiful organ was smashed, its pipes were bowed towards the floor inside the broken building. But it was not the sight of the wreckage that arrested the man. Such sights were familiar to Londoners. It was the sound that came out over the ruins through the gaping window-frames; "A mighty fortress is our God, A bulwark never failing." The man stood still. He waved his hands towards the ruins. "I'm not a religious man," he confessed, but it thrills me to hear people singing like that in the midst of devastation."
The church had been demolished in a Saturday night air raid. It had been a night of horror. There was a heavy casualty list—many fatal; many more lost their homes and all their possessions. But in spite of the terrible disaster, the people gathered that Sunday morning around their wrecked church. After sweeping the debris from the only room not destroyed, they held their service in this room.
Luther's great hymn was the first to be sung. The people were lifted up into a high mood of faith and zeal as they sand: "And tho' this world, with devils filled, Should threaten to undo us, We will not fear, for God hath will'd His truth to triumph through us."
Some other hymns were sung. The pastor then preached a sermon on "Have Faith in God." At the close of the sermon they sang "Give to the winds thy fears." Here was an experience of tragedy and triumph—a wonderful experience of the grace and help of God in the midst of disaster.
Reading the story in a London paper, I recalled at once the passage in Isaiah: "In that day shall this song be sung in the land of Judah. We have a strong city; salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks. Trust in the Lord forever: for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength"—A bulwark never failing.