2:12 Furthermore, when I came to Troas to preach Christ’s gospel, and a door was opened to me by the Lord, 13 I had no rest in my spirit, because I did not find Titus my brother; but taking my leave of them, I departed for Macedonia.
14 Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. 15 For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life. And who is sufficient for these things? 17 For we are not, as so many, peddling the word of God; but as of sincerity, but as from God, we speak in the sight of God in Christ.
From what we can piece together of the story in Corinth based on 1 and 2 Corinthians and a few clues elsewhere, the church was upset at Paul because he had said he was returning and he didn't. Instead he sent Titus to deal with the problems while he felt called elsewhere. When God opened the way for him to preach the gospel in Troas it appears Titus was to meet him there and help but he never made it. So while Corinth was still lamenting the absence of Paul, he was missing Titus and struggling alone in Troas not knowing what even happened to Titus or if he was ok.
Paul ends this section giving praise to God for His leading and then gently corrects the church in Corinth by reminding them that he isn't out peddling the gospel for his own profit and comfort as some are. Instead he is out in the trenches often alone and lonely for the sake of Christ. As he preaches some receive it as life giving truth while others reject Christ and by extension reject him.
I can't hold a candle to what Paul accomplished but I have some sense of his feelings. I have left churches behind and the people in them. No matter where I am I'm missing someone. I have felt the joy of bringing Christ to those who never knew Him before and felt the pain of those who reject Him. I have felt the isolation ministry can be at times. I have felt the pressure from those who felt I should be working differently or in a different place or felt they needed more of my time or presence. At the end of the day I sleep well knowing I'm not a peddler of the Gospel and that I'm not alone. The Great Shepherd sees all and knows all and is both before and behind us. Everything Paul is feeling or I am feeling Jesus experienced more deeply.
Yesterday I had a talk with someone in great pain because she loves deeply. It reminded me of the truth that love hurts and the more deeply we love the more pain it causes. It made me appreciate Jesus on a whole knew level. He loved with a perfect love. I can't begin to imagine how painful that was for Him - the constant rejection, the questioning of His choices, motives, and actions, even by His own disciples. In all of it His love never faltered. Paul has had a rough time with Corinth but his care and concern remained constant. "Love never fails".