“I assumed, naturally, I was going to die very quickly,” Carter told the congregation on Sunday
Death will come for Jimmy Carter much sooner than it will for many others, but he has found peace.
Returning to teach Sunday school at Maranatha Baptist Church in his hometown of Plains, Georgia, where he has taught for years, the 95-year-old former president reportedly talked about dying and the promise of life after dying that is central to his Christian faith.
According to ABC News, Carter did not discuss his falls this year and the resulting injuries: a broken hip in May, requiring surgery; a nasty bruise on his face and 14 stitches over his eye in October, followed shortly by a pelvic fracture.
But he did reflect on his 2015 cancer treatment — his most harrowing health episode.
His parents and siblings had all died of cancer years before him, and he did not expect to survive either after learning that the disease had infected his brain.
“I assumed, naturally, I was going to die very quickly,” Carter told the congregation, according to ABC.
“I said a prayer about it,” he said. But Carter “didn’t ask God to let me live.”
He was looking for peace of mind, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: the right way to face whatever was coming next.
“I found that I was absolutely, completely at ease with death,” he said, according to the AJC. Instead, he survived, thanks in part to innovative immunotherapeutic treatments.
During his Sunday school lesson this week, Carter talked about his evolving views on the Christian promise for the devout of eternal life and resurrection, according to ABC and the AJC.
He said that while he’d had earlier doubts in his life, his faith had grown stronger in part because of his own struggles.
“I’m going to live again,” he said, according to the AJC.
Now the nation’s oldest living president and one of its most famous humanitarians, Carter has been undeterred by his declining health. Hours after the fall that required stitches in October, he appeared with wife Rosalynn Carter at their annual volunteer project with Habitat for Humanity.
“It’s hard to live until you’re 95 years old,” he told PEOPLE in October.
He said that he and Mrs. Carter, because they are older now and more frail (he actually used the word “decrepit”), plan only one year in advance. They will travel to the Dominican Republic with Habitat in 2020.
He said they savor periodic pauses in the public life from which neither will yet retire.
“Now when we have a quiet moment, like a birthday or something, we like to stay at home, just by ourselves,” he said, “and enjoy a quiet day in our own house without any visitors and with minimum phone calls and emails coming in.”