In the Midst of Every Plague, God is Still A Mighty Fortress

Martin Luther wrote his famous hymn, “A Mighty Fortress is Our God,” on the strength of Psalm 46. It became the song of the Reformation, and an expression of faith to the present hour. 

“A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing;
Our helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing:
For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and pow’r are great, and, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.

Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing,
Were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God’s own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth, His Name, from age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.

And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us;
The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.

That word above all earthly pow’rs, no thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours through Him Who with us sideth;
Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;
The body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still,
His kingdom is forever.”

In August of 1527, the Black Plague came to Wittenberg, Germany. People feared for their lives. There was terrible sickness and death everywhere. Yet, without hesitation, Luther, and his wife Katharina, who was pregnant at the time, lingered in the city to minister to the sick and dying, with words and songs of comfort. It was during this time period that Luther wrote, “A Mighty Fortress is Our God”.

While the plague was pervasive in society, Martin Luther wrote a letter entitled, “Whether One Should Flee from a Deadly Plague,” to his friend, Rev. Dr. Johann Hess, who was a pastor in the city of Breslau, Germany. Included in that letter is this quote:

“I shall ask God mercifully to protect us. Then I shall fumigate, help purify the air, administer medicine and take it. I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance inflict and pollute others and so cause their death as a result of my negligence. If God should wish to take me, he will surely find me and I have done what he has expected of me and so I am not responsible for either my own death or the death of others. If my neighbor needs me however, I shall not avoid place or person but will go freely as stated above.”

Once more the Church needs pastors who are fearless, and filled with faith, courage, and common sense. No elder, no pastor, no minister of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ should ever forsake the assembly entrusted to their care, or allow anyone else to restrict them from the Word, worship, and commitment to walk among those who are sick and dying to give them comfort. When the world is most fearful, faithful pastors must be the most fearless.

Psalms 46

God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore, will not we fear,
though the earth be removed,
and though the mountains be carried
into the midst of the sea;
Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled,
though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof.
Selah.

There is a river,
the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God,
the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High.
God is in the midst of her;
she shall not be moved:
God shall help her, and that right early.

The heathen raged,
the kingdoms were moved:
he uttered his voice, the earth melted.
The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our refuge.
Selah.

Come, behold the works of the Lord,
what desolations he hath made in the earth.
He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth;
he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder;
he burneth the chariot in the fire.

Be still, and know that I am God:
I will be exalted among the heathen,
I will be exalted in the earth.
The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our refuge.
Selah.

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