Fortitude is the strength of character that enables a person to endure pain or adversity with courage. Although the word fortitude is rarely used in the most popular versions of the Bible, the concept is addressed often. Instead of fortitude, the word endurance, strength, or perseverance is used more often in our Bibles. Not only is fortitude a great quality, but we are commanded to pursue it (1 Timothy 6:11; 2 Timothy 2:3; 1 Peter 1:5–6).
Fortitude, or courageous endurance, is mentioned in the Bible most often in conjunction with our faith in Christ Jesus. In the days when the books of the New Testament were being penned, persecution against Christians was escalating (Acts 8:1). To be a follower of Jesus could mean the loss of property, position, and even life (Acts 7:58; 12:2). So the apostles and leaders continually urged the budding new churches to stand strong, have courage, and endure for the sake of Christ (Acts 5:41; 1 Peter 2:20; 4:16; Revelation 2:17).
We are also instructed to have fortitude when being disciplined by the Lord (Hebrews 12:7). Rather than become bitter and turn away from God when He takes us through fiery trials (1 Peter 4:12), we are to endure, develop fortitude, and grow in our faith and character to be more like Christ (Romans 8:29). Fortitude is not needed on sunny days at the beach; it’s needed in the storms of life.
The virtuous woman described in Proverbs 31 is a woman of fortitude: “She clothes herself with fortitude, and fortifies her arms with strength” (verse 17, ISV). Daniel showed fortitude when he faced the lions’ den for his prayers (Daniel 6). Esther’s fortitude was evident when she went before the king saying, “If I perish, I perish” (Esther 4:16). The lack of fortitude shown by the Israelite army facing Goliath was countered by David’s strength of mind as he put off Saul’s armor and picked up his sling (1 Samuel 17). And, of course, Jesus’ fortitude surpasses all, as He obeyed the will of the Father and went to the cross: “Because the Sovereign LORD helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore have I set my face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame” (Isaiah 50:7; cf. John 12:27).
We develop fortitude as we walk with Christ, following His commands, refusing to turn to the left or the right (Proverbs 4:27), and letting His Word be the lamp to our feet and the light to our path (Psalm 119:105). When we have persevered and overcome this world, the Lord promises that we will reign with Him forever (Revelation 2:26; 3:21; 20:4). Fortitude is possible by the power of the Holy Spirit (Luke 12:11; Mark 13:11–13) and is rewarded by our Father in heaven.