Thank you, Jimmy Carter

Published February 23, 2023

By Lib Campbell

You are almost home. Your family is gathered, whispering sweet words of gratitude and blessing for your exemplary life. We all thank you for the witness of a good and gracious life. Prayers for ease and peace in this transition. Your like is in short supply today, so we pause, reflect and give thanks.

At 98 nobody will say you died too young or that your death was unexpected. The scope of your 98 years is something to behold. Raised on a peanut farm in Plains, Georgia, you married your high school sweetheart, Rosalynn, in 1946. Nothing remarkable about that. What is remarkable is that after more than 75 years of marriage, you and Rosalynn still hold hands. You evidence kindness and high regard for each other through all the trials of a long life. You show us what strong marriage looks like. Even your comments about “lust in your heart” express knowledge of the Biblical understanding of fidelity and covenant in marriage.

Perhaps your presidency was not all it could have been. The oil embargo, the Iran Hostage situation, inflation and the increasing divisiveness of a congress stymied your good will and interest in human affairs. Everybody is a critic; we tend to pass judgment on performance more than character. You nailed the character debate. You have character in spades.

Newspapers from around the country have written articles about your awards and successes in your post-presidential life. They talk about your work as an environmentalist, especially in Alaska. There are articles about how, as a young Naval First Lieutenant, your work on a nuclear reactor averted a nuclear meltdown. In the pictures you are young, intense, and you looked like you were in your element. I think America always underestimated your brilliance. We seldom see the whole picture of a person. I think we missed out on knowing you, at least while you were President.

We got a fuller glimpse into your life after you left the Presidency. Your work in Habitat for Humanity extends for decades. Your vision for helping people become homeowners has blessed millions, all of whom know your impact on this ministry. The 2002 Nobel Prize for your life’s work set you on a world stage of accomplishment.

Your biographer says you will be remembered as one of the smartest Presidents in history and that your Presidency was but a steppingstone to your more outstanding accomplishments. Your humanitarian work through the Carter Center stands as a testament to what goodness, humility, hard work, and a love for humankind can do to make the world a better place.

Your involvement with the church as a Sunday School teacher is remarkable. Loyalty and faith mark your life in and after politics. Character is in short supply these days. As your story is told more and more over the next weeks and days, I pray words that affirm your goodness will be spoken.

The loss to Ronald Reagan changed the direction of America in many ways. Who is to say what is better for the country and for the world? A vision of peace and prosperity for all people is always a good thing. President Carter, you were good at offering that vision.

Through many dangers, toils, and snares you have already come. Struggles with cancer did not slow you down. To say you lived with a great zest for life is an understatement. I imagine your room today with your family coming in and out. Rosalynn is there holding your hand. There are prayers being offered and maybe a hymn or two. They all, as we, give thanks for your stamina, your life full of love and peace. I pray for you that you hear clearly the words of Jesus saying, “well done, good and faithful servant.”

Even your decision to spend your final days in a precious goodbye shines a light on any fears we may have of death. You have shown us how to live a life of service and good will, and now you show us dying with dignity. Thank you and thank God that you have been a beautiful witness of grace. A rare treasure. Rest in peace.

Lib Campbell is a retired Methodist pastor, retreat leader, columnist and host of the blogsite She can be contacted at