In the campaign of Napoleon in Russia, while the French army was retreating from Moscow, there lay in a poor, low cottage, in a little village, an invalid boy. This village was exactly in the course of the retreating army, and already the reports of its approach had reached and excited the terrified inhabitants. In their turn, they began to make preparations for retreat; for they knew there was no hope for them from the hands of soldiers, all seeking their own preservation, and giving no quarter to others.
Every one who had the strength to fly, fled; some trying to take with them their worldly goods, some to conceal them. The little village was fast growing deserted. Some burnt their houses or dismantled them. The old were placed in wagons, and the young hurried their families away with them.
But in the little cottage there was none of this bustle. The poor crippled boy could not move from his bed. The widowed mother had no friends intimate enough to spare a thought for her in this time of trouble, when every one thought only of those nearest to him and of himself. What chance in flight was there for herself and her young children, among whom one was the poor crippled boy?
It was evening, and the sound of distant voices and of preparation had died away. The poor boy was wakeful with urging his mother to leave him to his fate, now dreading lest she should take him at his word, and leave him behind.
The neighbors are just going away; I hear them no longer,” he said. “I am so selfish, I have kept you here. Take the little girls with you; it is not too late. And I am safe; who will hurt a poor helpless boy?”
“We are all safe,” answered the mother; “God will not leave us, though all else forsake us.”
“But what can help us?’ persisted the boy. “Who can defend us from their cruelty? Such stories as I have heard of the ravages of these men! They are not men; they are wild beasts. Oh, why was I made so weak - so weak as to be utterly useless? No strength to defend, no strength to fly.”
“There is a sure wall for the defenseless,” answered his mother “God will build us up a sure wall.”
“You are my strength now,” said the boy; ‘ I thank God that you did not desert me. I am so weak, I cling to you. Do not leave me, indeed! I fancy I can see the cruel soldiers hurrying in. We are too poor to satisfy them, and they would pour their vengeance upon us! And yet you ought to leave me! What right have I to keep you here? And I shall suffer more if I see you suffer.”
“God will be our refuge and defense still," said the mother and at length, with low, quieting words, she stilled the anxious boy, till he, too, slept like his sisters. The morning came of the day that was to bring the dreaded enemy. The mother and children opened their eyes to find that a “sure wall" had indeed been built for their defense.
The snow had begun to fall the evening before. Through the night it had collected rapidly. A “stormy wind, fulfilling His word” had blown the snow into drifts against the low house, so that it had entirely covered it -- a protecting wall, built by Him who holds the very winds in his fists, and who ever pities those who trust in Him. A low shed behind protected the way to the outhouse, here the animals were, and for a few days the mother and her children kept themselves alive within their cottage, shut in and concealed by the heavy barricade of snow.
It was during that time that the dreaded scourge passed over the village. Every house was ransacked; all the wealthier ones deprived of their luxuries, and the poorer ones robbed of their necessaries. But the low-roofed cottage lay sheltered beneath its wall of snow, which, in the silent night, had gathered about it. God had protected the defenseless with a “sure wall.”
-Guiding Hand, by H.L. Hastings
Touching Incidents and Remarkable Answers to Prayer - 1893