"With God we shall do valiantly; for He it is who will tread down our foes."—Psalm 108:13
As a child I loved The Wizard of Oz and being a rather small and timid chap was drawn to the Cowardly Lion. In the end, as you know, the lion was given a medal for bravery. “Look what it says," he exclaimed, "'COURAGE!’ Ain’t it the truth, ain’t it the truth!”
Physical courage is one thing; moral courage is another. Sometimes the hardest battles are fought within. Emily Dickinson wrote, "To fight aloud is very brave, but gallanter, I know, who charge within the bosom, the cavalry of woe..." Fortitude is the name we give to this virtue.
Fortitude is not simply one of the virtues, it's the virtue that gives strength to all the others. Chastity, honesty, patience, mercy are hard-earned virtues in a world like ours. It's fortitude that enables us to endure, to stand immovable in the midst of danger.
Fortitude is "a long obedience in the right direction"; it is doing the right thing over the long haul despite the consequences. Fortitude is sticking with a hard marriage; staying in a small place when prominence beckons; refusing to betray a moral principle just to get along or to get ahead. We can be brave and do the right thing for God is with us in the battle and “He it is who will tread down our foes.” (108:13).
I think of a scene in C.S. Lewis' The Last Battle: One of the children, Jill Pole asks, “What do you think is inside the stable?” “Who knows?” Tirian replied. “Two Calormenes with drawn swords, as likely as not, one on each side of the door... There’s no knowing. But courage, child. We are all between the paws of the true Aslan."
Ain't it the truth! Ain’t it the truth!