“Patience and fortitude conquer all things.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

While out walking, I came across a sticker with the word Fortitude. It was quite random. Before long though, I was thinking about the word fortitude which comes from the Latin word ‘fortitudo’ meaning strength.

Fortitude is something that we all have to cultivate in some way, shape or form. Some of us have had more to face than others and some have had varying degrees of success finding the strength needed in the face of this particularly difficult season.

Here in Brisbane, one of our suburbs is called Fortitude Valley, named after one of the three immigrant ships that transported settlers to Moreton Bay in 1849. I can’t begin to imagine how much fortitude those early pioneers needed to travel all the way to the other side of the world in the hope of a better life.

History shows us that overcoming adversity is a part of life on planet earth. Every generation, every country has its hard times, its challenging times- war, disease, drought, flood, fire and on it goes. Circumstances can crush us or develop us. Circumstances shape, build and strengthen our personal character… and the character of our nation as a whole. It helps define who we are as individuals and as a country.

I’m reminded of the classic children’s book “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt” by Michael Rosen. The family head out to find a bear and come up against various obstacles on the way. The refrain is always the same. “Cant’ go over it, can’t go under it. Oh no, we have to go through it.”

That’s life in it’s most simplistic form. You have to go through it. Or as Dory in “Finding Nemo” puts it, you “just keep swimming.”

You can’t buy fortitude. You don’t wake up suddenly one morning and go “Hey, I have fortitude.” If you believe in God and I do, there are numerous bible verses to remind us to call on God for strength and courage ( or in other words, fortitude) in any given situation. You won’t avoid a circumstance but you can have divine help to get through.

The more you and I face uncertainty and adversity, the more fortitude and resilience we develop in our lives which enables us to withstand danger, obstacles and fears and just as importantly it puts us in a position to be able to help others develop their own brand of fortitude.

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