The Fortitude Effect
Fortitude, that inner strength that pushes one forward no matter what circumstances may surround them. How strong is yours? Fortitude, as defined by Merriam-Webster, means the strength of mind that enables a person to encounter danger, bear pain, or tackle adversity with courage. Many times, we face a choice in which we can allow obstacles to stop us or we can keep pressing forward regardless of what we face. Where does fortitude come from? How can we get it? And can we bottle it up so that as we face challenges in our daily life, we can quickly pull it out and use it? We can exercise and eat right to strengthen our body over time but just how do we go about strengthening our minds?
Erik Weihenmayer is an adventurer, author, and someone who can teach us about fortitude. He successfully reached the summit of Mount Everest in May of 2001. This accomplishment is something that up until the last 10 years only 150 people were successful in doing each year. And it remains, even today, a claim to a title that few will hold. But if that isn’t enough to wow you let me point out that Erik is not your average adventurer. Because Erik Weihenmayer didn’t just climb Mount Everest, he did so blind. He became the first blind person to succeed in scaling the tallest mountain in the world and even in the last 20 years only 1 other blind athlete has successfully reached this challenge.
Taking on the Challenges
Erik was born with a degenerative eye disease called retinoschisis. By the time he was 13, he was completely blind. However, rather than focusing on what he could not do, he chose to focus on what he could. He pushed himself farther than almost anyone expected.
Erik wrote his autobiography, Touch the Top of the World: A Blind Man’s Journey to Climb Farther Than the Eye Can See after his successful summit climb. But He didn’t stop there as he went on to take the Challenge of the 7 Summits. A challenge that consists of climbing the highest mountain of each of the 7 continents. He completed this challenge in 2008. And just in case anyone wanted to say he only had the fortitude to climb. In September of 2014, he solo kayaked the entire 277 miles of the Grand Canyon. You can witness his fortitude firsthand through video clips of his adventures on his website.
To accomplish any of these feats is awe-inspiring, but it is inconceivable to me to even consider doing it without the gift of sight. However, Eric has developed what he calls the “No Barriers Mindset.” He says that to him this means that you live with a purpose, pushing fear aside, and living the life that you always wanted. He goes on to say that summits are important milestones, but the ultimate value is when you take the gifts earned through your struggles and use them to them elevate your community and become a leader who serves.
Where Does Fortitude Come From?
I think it is important to note that Eric doesn’t claim his fortitude comes from himself. Eric is a Christian who puts his faith and trust totally in God, who resides within him. Eric said that before being part of the Everest team that he asked God to close doors if he wasn’t supposed to do things. But Eric said that instead of doors closing, they opened wider.
He believes that God has a purpose for him, but that purpose isn’t that Eric makes it to the tops of summits. Instead, he insists God’s purpose is that Eric trusts Him. Eric goes on to say that when he reached the top of the summit of Mount Everest that God wasn’t impressed because of this accomplishment. Instead, he feels that God is more impressed when we humbly serve and trust Him. For true fortitude doesn’t come from our own strength. But instead through the strength, we gain when we trust fully in Christ.
Eric realizes that the greatest thing in his experiences is what it does and continues to do for his relationship with God. He learned how we are God’s hands and feet and through this knowledge the importance of going where He sends us. (Andrews) Seeking out God through our journeys in life is the key.
Fortitude and Trust
Trusting in the Lord is the patient expectation that God will fulfill His promises in His Word and strengthen us to rise above the difficulties we face in life. This is the inner strength of fortitude. We must believe that God loves us and always wants the best for us. But that takes a lot of trust. As the reality is that many times doing the right thing requires overcoming obstacles. There is no smooth life simply because we follow God. It would be nice if things would always work out well and people would like us because we followed God. But it just doesn’t work that way. However, it also means that we can’t allow troubles that arise to convince us to quit.
When we rely fully upon God and allow Him to strengthen us giving us the fortitude to move forward, we can find peace in all circumstances. We learn that with our confidence in Him that His purposes are always right. It is in this that we can be convinced fully that He has the power to control not just our life, but all of life. This is the fortitude that comes from trusting in God and the strength that keeps us going.
But those that trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary: they will walk and not faint.Isaiah 40:31 (NLT)
Power in the Weakness
It is easy to give up and want to quit when life overcomes us and wears us down. And it is here in our struggling or weak faith that we must embrace the provisions and care that He provides. For when we place our trust fully in Him, we can be like the Apostle Paul and concentrate on the inner strength that only comes from the Holy Spirit. This fortitude doesn’t allow fatigue, pain, or criticism to force us from the design that God created for us. This takes us renewing our commitment to serving Christ every day and not giving up on our eternal reward because of the intensity of today’s pain.
It is through our weakness that the power of the resurrection is seen as Christ strengthens us moment by moment in the difficulties we face. This allows our patience to develop and makes the ultimate and final victory, oh so sweet. So, when we feel we are at the end of our rope we must remember that we are never at the end of our hope. God never abandons us. All our risks, humiliations, and trials are opportunities for Christ to demonstrate His power and presence in and through us. For no one can destroy what God has accomplished through us. So, it is here that we look to Him for our fortitude, our inner strength to carry on no matter what.
All the Challenges of Life Need the Power of Fortitude
Most of us will never scale Mount Everest, take on the Challenge of the 7 Summits, or solo kayak the 277 miles of the Grand Canyon. We will however be challenged daily in the regular things of life with obstacles that cause us to give up or in. So, take on the challenge instead of depending always upon God for your fortitude or inner strength to just get through the day. Allow your convictions to positively carry you into the places He designed you for. Find your motivation in knowing that God loves you and wants only the best for you. And rest in the comfort of knowing that God isn’t impressed by your accomplishments in reaching the summits in your life but instead finds His pleasure in you when you trust in Him entirely to lead the way.
Love in Christ,
Let your life reflect the faith you have in God. Fear nothing and pray about everything. Be strong, trust God’s word, and trust the process.”Germany Kent
What are Your Thoughts?
Where do you find your fortitude? Have you realized the power of this scripture, Isaiah 40:31, emphasizes the verb, will, and not might? Share your thoughts on fortitude and the power of God that is within you.
Credits Andrews, A. (n.d.). Eric Alexander. Retrieved from 700 Club Interactive: http://event.cbn.com/700clubinteractive/guests/Eric_Alexander.aspx Weihenmayer, E. (n.d.). Retrieved from Erik Weihenmayer: https://erikweihenmayer.com/