The London Blitz Test for Biddy’s Resilience (Part IV)

The London Blitz provided the utmost opportunity for Biddy Chambers to demonstrate resilience.

I’ve written before about what happened on December 29, 1940 here.

All 40,000 copies of Oswald Chambers-authored books burned in the warehouses surrounding St. Paul’s Cathedral.

As did 1,000,000 others books in what one magazine described as “the crematorium of England‘s books.”

Blitz, Resilience, Biddy Chambers, Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, crematorium of England's books, St. Paul's Cathedral, London WWIIThe fledgling Oswald Chambers Publishing Association, Ltd. (OCPAL) feared it was the end of the ministry.

Weren’t they insured?


Six months prior, in “accordance with the teaching of the books,” (to trust God designed all events including potential catastrophes, according to his plan) the OCPAL, undoubtedly with Biddy in the lead, voted not insure the books.

In fact, they wrote to the warehouse owner that if a fire occurred there, the OCPAL would not make a claim for the stock in the warehouses, even if circumstances caused them to regret the decision.

The Blitz

Under a bomber’s moon, 24,000 high explosive and 100,000 incendiary bombs fell trying to destroy St. Paul’s Cathedral.

Firewatchers saved the cathedral, but could do little about the warehouses.

What the fire did not burn, water sprayed by firefighters finished off, leaving the remains in pulp; 4,000,000 books total.

Blitz, Resilience, Biddy Chambers, Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, crematorium of England's books, St. Paul's Cathedral, London WWII

 St. Paul’s neighborhood By H. Mason

Biddy’s reaction to the Blitz in her neighborhood?

She knew all about bombings by the time the Germans took on St. Paul’s Cathedral.

The Luftwaffe nearly bombed her own home in Muswell Hill three months earlier.

The neighborhood shops behind her lost their windows, and the bombs destroyed many houses, but not Biddy’s

Her reaction in September, 1940 to her neighborhood’s close call?

“Seeing it all is as bad as hearing it, but it is made possible to look at the things not seen, so the seen things don’t dominate.”

As always, Biddy turned her heart and expectations to what God was doing.

That particular night, she held her usual Oswald Chambers book group.

Only three people came.

Biddy’s reaction after the Oswald Chambers books burned

The OCPAL meeting in January 1941 lasted a long, sober time.

It looked as if they had no stock yet, which meant the end of Biddy’s ministry.

She was philosophical about the possibility her life’s work had perished.

Blitz, Resilience, Biddy Chambers, Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, crematorium of England's books, St. Paul's Cathedral, London WWII

Linda Livingstone’s copy survived a different fire. 

Biddy had a large steel cupboard at her home, as did Oswald’s sister Gertrude. She assumed only the books in those two cupboards survived.

“She was quite prepared to think the books had come to an end,” Kathleen said.

Biddy’s attitude was simple: “We’ll just get rid of what we’ve got here and see what God wants to happen next.” If God wanted the work to continue, it would.

Kathleen noted her mother never doubted God. She might have been perplexed, but she was never shaken by what He allowed to happen.

If this was the end of her work, God would give her something else to do.

Where does resilience come from in the face of the Blitz?

Biddy’s faith was in God; He would provide.

If He, the same God who took her husband’s life at a young age, wanted to destroy Oswald’s life work, she believed God knew the reasons why.

(You can see that attitude throughout My Utmost for His Highest).

Nevertheless, when copies of My Utmost for His Highest turned up in Switzerland, or unbound at the printer, she took it all in stride.

One printer had plates, another bookseller far from London had books, and soon the OCPAL was back in business.

By the end of the war, they had been able to reproduce almost all the Oswald Chambers books.

Biddy put her faith in God, not the circumstances.

Once again, she chose to believe God and as a result, wasn’t surprised when He worked in a mighty way.

Where does the resilience come from?

As answered in the first post, Biddy anchored her faith in the Creator of the Universe who has a plan–yesterday, tomorrow and today.

You can see all the posts here:

Resilience Lessons from Mrs. Oswald Chambers Part I

Widowhood Resiliency and Mrs. Oswald Chambers Part II

Resiliency Post WWI: Mrs. Oswald Chambers (Part III)


Adventures in resilience: the London Blitz destroys all Oswald Chambers’ books. Click to Tweet

Faith and work salvages Oswald Chambers’ books from the London Blitz. Click to Tweet

How did Biddy Chambers react to losing her life’s work in the London Blitz? Click to Tweet



Every month in 2017, I’ve been telling the stories about God’s leading and my blessed–and astonished–reactions while writing Mrs. Oswald Chambers

The next newsletter comes out December 15: In which I receive an unexpected blessing from Biddy Chambers

This story will complete the free giveaway: Writing about Biddy and Oswald Chambers: Stories and Serendipities!

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