On Fortitude in the Christian Life by John Newton

Psalm 119 says in verse 67: “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word.”

What is fortitude? It has been defined as ‘courage with endurance’. When God sends and allows afflictions in our lives, we need fortitude to persevere by his grace- – we need courage with endurance.

We must find this fortitude in Christ Jesus by the power of His Spirit.

Have you ever asked God to grow in grace and then your life seemed to fall apart? Have you ever prayed that God would make you more like him and allow you to give up some of your self-centeredness and pet sins and he placed what seemed at the time to be great pressure and unbelievable difficulty upon your life?

Have you ever had to trust God by faith in His “yes and amen” promises in Jesus Christ, even though it did not seem he was keeping His promises to you in your finite estimation.

If you have, then you have had to believe and hold on by faith using fortitude by God’s Spirit, or “courage with endurance”.

The below poem written by John Newton captures this biblical truth of fortitude extremely well. John Newton lived in the 18th century and has been remembered for writing the hymn ‘Amazing Grace‘.

The poem below displays another aspect of God’s amazing grace.

“I asked the Lord that I might grow

In faith, and love, and every grace,

Might more of his salvation know

And seek more earnestly his face.

/

‘Twas he who taught me thus to pray,

And he, I trust, has answered prayer;

But it has been in such a way

As almost drove me to despair.

/

I hoped that in some favoured hour

At once he’d answer my request,

And by his love’s constraining power

Subdue my sins, and give me rest.

/

Instead of this, he made me feel

The hidden evil of my heart,

And let the angry powers of hell

Assault my soul in every part.

/

Yea, more, with his own hand he seemed

Intent to aggravate the woe,

Crossed all the fair designs I schemed,

Blasted my gourds, and laid me low.

/

‘Lord, why is this?’ I trembling cried,

‘Wilt thou pursue thy worm to death?’

‘Tis in this way,’ the Lord replied,

‘I answer prayer by grace and faith.

/

‘These inward trials I employ

From self and pride to set thee free,

And break thy schemes of earthly joy,

That thou mayest seek thy all in me.'”

John Newton, ‘Collected Writings of John Newton‘, Vol. 3, Olney Hymns, Book III, 36; Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust.

Stop now to pray, and thank God for His grace and mercy in your life.

In Christ’s love,

Pastor Charles

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