A Mighty Fortress Is Our God

By Jennifer Duncan

I was a carefree college student, enjoying my final year at a Christian university.  My dad was a professor at the university, and one of the real joys of my time there had been that I had taken several classes under him.  I had just recently gotten engaged to John, and I was excited about moving into a new phase of life.

I finished a full evening of study in the library, and John and I were headed out to have pizza with friends.  We saw an ambulance scream by on campus, but decided not to join the curious crowd down by the gym.  A few minutes later, we were summoned to the hospital.  My dad was the one in the ambulance.  During a faculty-student basketball game, he had collapsed and died at age 42.

To say that my family was devastated, is an understatement.   Like any family experiencing profound grief, we would never be the same.  But we trusted God to work even in those circumstances, for our good.  And He did. 

For my dad’s funeral, my mother chose a wonderful hymn to be sung by our church’s choir …”A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.” Martin Luther’s remarkable composition expresses the confident hope that we needed at the time.  The fourth stanza says, in part:

                          “Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;

                           The body they may kill; God’s truth abideth still.

                                            His kingdom is forever.

I just recently learned that “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” is Luther’s paraphrase of Psalm 46.  I should have known that such inspiring words of truth would have a basis in the Word of God.  My first experience with grief was the beginning of many years of learning what it means to trust God in every circumstance.  He has become, more and more, my Mighty Fortress, to Whom I run for refuge, comfort and peace.

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