The Miracle of Lee
12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.
When trials come, it is normal to pray that God would intervene and minimize the suffering. Sometimes we avoid trials and thank God for deliverance, then offer ourselves to be available to God’s call. When we can not avoid suffering, however, it is hard to find much to be thankful for and it is easy to become dismissive to God’s call.
What makes this passage so significant this spring is that May 2nd marked the one-year anniversary of the passing of our dear friend Lee Tolbert. Lee was less than a month from realizing his freedom from prison when cancer took him from us. As with many we know serving life sentences, we continually pray for deliverance from prison, but for Lee, we also prayed for deliverance from a terminal disease. We all had hopes that God would intervene and when Lee passed, we could not understand why a miracle was not in store for him.
The fact is that we were experiencing a miracle every day Lee was with us. Under extreme pain suffering, Lee never let his circumstances keep him from being available to God’s calling. The easy path would have been to curse God and die, but Lee was cut from a different cloth. Lee knew that he was destined to receive the crown of life and spend eternity with Christ who had forgiven and redeemed him from sin and death. Lee had passed from death onto life and even in the face of such trials, he remained faithful to Christ as a witness to the power of God’s grace. Few experiences have inspired us as has experiencing Lee’s devotion to Jesus through suffering.
A year after Lee’s transition into the Father’s presence, we were humbled to receive a significant gift from Lee’s estate. Even as Lee was coming to terms with not overcoming cancer or experiencing freedom beyond the razor wire, Lee made himself available to answer God’s call and thought of Kindway. We all prayed for a miracle in Lee’s life. It seems the miracle was not that he would be released or healed, but that Lee would remain faithful under extreme trials and suffering. What an amazing testimony and lesson. We are all blessed to have experienced the Miracle of Lee.