2:2 But I determined this within myself, that I would not come again to you in sorrow. 2 For if I make you sorrowful, then who is he who makes me glad but the one who is made sorrowful by me?
3 And I wrote this very thing to you, lest, when I came, I should have sorrow over those from whom I ought to have joy, having confidence in you all that my joy is the joy of you all. 4 For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote to you, with many tears, not that you should be grieved, but that you might know the love which I have so abundantly for you.
We found out over the past couple of days that God didn't want Paul to return to Corinth. Now we find out that Paul himself had determined not to go while he was still upset. It turns out that they are the source of his grief. We'll find out more about that tomorrow. For today I was struck by Paul's raw emotion. In his last letter to them he affirmed their position is Jesus as beloved saints before launching into a series of issues they were facing and not dealing with very well. It wasn't the kind of letter that brings great joy.
As a pastor I have received letters from people who think I need correction. In some cases they were right. In other cases I wasn't convinced I was the problem. However I can assure you that in neither case did I feel great joy.
As a father I find myself having to correct my children. It's not a task I enjoy and they don't enjoy it either. It begs the question that if no one is enjoying it, why do it? Wouldn't everyone just be happier if I let everything slide? Just a couple of days ago my son said "You're always getting after me!" To this I replied as I have a few times over the years. "I do it because I love you. If I didn't love you I wouldn't care, and you could do whatever you want."
When God finds ways of correcting me I am reminded of the words "He whom the Lord loves, He rebukes and corrects". It's exhausting unpleasant work that in the moment brings joy to no one. It's not done with now in mind. It's done with the future in mind. It's done with the hope that tomorrow will bring better choices and better outcomes.
Paul is openly saying "I didn't want to come to get after you. I get after you because I love you but then they time I see you I want it to be a joyful occasion, not a disciplinary meeting."
Life requires correction but it can't be all correction. I am reminded that I need to affirm more than correct. That I need to seek moments of joy with my kids that will make the corrections easier to take. I need them to see that I truly do love them, enjoy them, and am proud of all their good accomplishments.
I appreciate this candid vulnerable side of Paul. It's practical. It's real. I can relate.