"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 timid child was drawn to The Cowardly Lion. In the end, as you know, the lion was given a medal for valor. “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.
Aquinas wrote, ”The principal act of fortitude is endurance, that is, to stand immovable in the midst of dangers.” 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 to get along or to get ahead. We can do these things because God is with us, treading down our foes.
I think of a scene in C.S. Lewis' The Last Battle: 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!