Editor's Letters
by T. Austin-Sparks

January-February 1946

BELOVED OF GOD,

As we move into another year we do so on a note of hope and assurance. It is wonderful how the words given us from year to year, as our message for each, have proved to be just what the year needed. For instance, how very true to experience, far beyond the usual, has been the word for 1945, "Thy faithfulness reacheth unto the skies". With the end of the major wars and the steady reopening of communications, we have heard from so many long-cut-off brothers and sisters of the unfailing faithfulness of the Lord through years of very great suffering. Not only so, but those who have returned to us from captivity and exile have been able to tell the story so much more fully; and what a story it is! Truly the six years can be crowned with this testimony; but we did not know, when the word for that year was given in the later months of 1944, that 1945 would see the suspending of the war. And now we inscribe on our banner for 1946
"I WILL DO BETTER... THAN AT YOUR BEGINNINGS"
"A LATTER END AND A HOPE"
and we believe that this also is a God-given word. How it will be fulfilled we do not know, but what it says to our hearts is that the faithfulness of the Lord over these past years, and over all the years of our relationship with Him, means that the end will not be disappointment. The end will be glory, not shame; fulfilment, not frustration; triumph, not defeat. Our God is so often called "The God of Hope"; as such, He never despairs, never gives up; He never accepts a verdict of hopelessness. He always has a way of reaching His end; and so long as any heart will trust Him, no situation is impossible. It is the end which governs all; and we must not talk of ends until God says it is the end. "Hope at thy latter end" or "An end and a hope", is His word to us. We shall often be sorely tempted to believe that an apparently hopeless situation is the end, but we shall have to lay hold of the God of Hope and simply say - This cannot be the end while God still remains!

Paul once said that he despaired of life and had the sentence of death in himself; but he added, "that we should trust... in God who raiseth the dead". What a lot hangs upon that "that"; it speaks of definite intention and purpose; and it indicates the result of investigation of the object of suffering. The end with God is not death, but life. The history, and, indeed, the very purpose of the Church in this dispensation, is that of manifesting the fact of Christ's conquest of death; and when we speak of the Church, we mean the individuals who vitally constitute it. Death is not alone a physical matter, but a spirit and a spiritual power which brings about a discontinuance of vital activity and useful service. It can fill the atmosphere and come down like a cloud, stifling prayer and praise, and paralysing the soul. It can make the body heavy and listless without any ailment being present, giving the symptoms of illness when no illness exists. But, of course, there can be a real spiritual issue bound up with actual sickness and assault upon the body. The New Testament is full of definite statements and clear indications that the object of the great Adversary is in some way to kill and bring what is of Christ to an end. But we have the fact of Christ's resurrection to count upon as an abiding spiritual power for the very purpose of securing a triumphant issue to every assault and onslaught. Thus, in a thousand instances in this life, and in an all-inclusive issue at the end of our course here, that which betokens God is "Some better thing", "An end and a hope", "Better than at your beginnings".

Well, those are our words for 1946. As we have said, we do not now know all that the Lord means by them, but we shall see. In the meantime, beloved, let us ask for faith to reach through to God's "end". May the year be one of enlargement upward, and victory all along. This is my prayer for you.

Yours in the bonds of His love and service,
T. Austin-Sparks

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