It matters not how deep entrenched the wrong,
How hard the battle goes, the day how long;
Faint not — fight on! Tomorrow comes the song.
(Maltbie D. Babcock)
WE CHOOSE TO BE OUR STRONGEST WHEN WE BELIEVE OUR CAUSE IS WORTHY AND IS GOING TO BE TRIUMPHANT. Even if our part is to die on the battlefield, it makes a big difference to know that our personal “defeat” has contributed to the victory of the cause for which we fought. The charge “Be strong!” is heard best by soldiers who know that “tomorrow comes the song.”
But the word “fortitude” does not simply mean “strength” or “courage.” It has a special meaning. A “fort” is a place strengthened (“fortified”) for the defense of a particular territory. So in its most literal sense, “fortitude” has to do with defense: the person with fortitude possesses the ability to resist attack. He or she has the strength — and also the will — to defend things that are worthy of defense.
It should go without saying (but these days it needs to be said) that there are some things that do, in fact, need to be defended. Granted, we need to be careful in identifying what those things are, and even when we’ve correctly identified the things that should be defended, we’ve still got to exercise wisdom in selecting the means for their defense. But that said, it remains true that fortitude is an honorable trait. The person who will not defend anything is not worthy of the protections provided by the fortitude of others.
So we must choose to have fortitude, and the choice to have it is extremely important. Granted, we must acquire both wisdom and skill, but in the end, the strong people are those who choose to be.
What about you? Do your friends think of fortitude when they think of you? Does your family think of you this way? I hope so. If others can look to you for “strength to defend,” then you are a blessing to them. And if by the simple, quiet example of your courage you impart courage to them, they will thank God for you.
“In our little sphere, it is not the most active people to whom we owe the most. It is the lives like stars, which simply pour down on us the calm light of their bright and faithful being, up to which we look, and out of which we gather the deepest calm and courage” (Phillips Brooks).