“There is a famous speech recorded of an old Norseman, thoroughly characteristic of the Teuton. “I believe neither in idols nor demons, “said he,
“I put my sole trust in my own strength of body and soul.” The ancient crest of a pickaxe with the motto of “Either I will find a way or make one,” was an exposition of the same sturdy independence which to this day distinguishes the descendants of the Northmen. Indeed nothing could be more characteristic of the Scandinavian mythology, than that it had a God with a hammer. A man’s character is seen in small matters; and from even so slight a test as the mode in which a man wields a hammer, his energy may in some measure be inferred.
The cultivation of the qualities of force of purpose is the greatest importance; resolute determination in the pursuit of worthy objects being the foundation of all true greatness of character. Energy enables a man to force his way through irksome drudgery and dry details, and carries him onward and upward in every station of life. It accomplishes more than genius, with not one half the disappointment and peril. It is not eminent talent that is required to insure success in any pursuit, so much as purpose – not merely the power to achieve, but the will to labor energetically and perseveringly. Hence energy of will may be defined to be the very central power of character in a man – in a word, it is the Man himself. It gives impulse to his every action, and soul to every effort.
“Woe to him that is faint-hearted,” says the son of Sirach. There is indeed, no blessing equal to the possession of a stout heart. Even if a man fail in his efforts, it will be a satisfaction to him to enjoy the consciousness of having done his best. In humble life nothing can be more cheering and beautiful than to see a man combating suffering by patience, triumphing in his integrity, and who, when his feet are bleeding and his limbs failing him, still walks upon his courage.
When Luther said to Erasmus, “You desire to walk upon eggs without crushing them, and among glasses without breaking them,” the timorous, hesitating Erasmus replied, “I will not be unfaithful to the cause of Christ, at least so far as the age will permit me.” Luther was a very different character. He said, “I will go to Worms though devils were combined against me as thick as the tiles upon the housetops.”
As for the will, considered without regard to direction, it is simply constancy, firmness, perseverance, it will be obvious that everything depends upon right direction and motives. Directed towards the enjoyment of the senses, the strong will may be a demon and then intellect merely its debased slave; but directed towards good, the strong will is a king, and the intellect the minister of man’s highest well-being.” Samuel Smiles (1889)
“Be on the alert, stand firm in he faith, act like men, be strong.” 1Cor. 16:13
The applications to this piece are endless, and as the woman in the picture works against all odds and distress to find food for her family, it emboldens me to face the many less difficult battles of home life and the pursuit of Godliness.
Photo by Maciej Dakowicz - "Flies are hungry"