Ever stand toe-to-toe to a situation and stare down the one hard fact that what you are about to face is not going to be easy? That it’s just gotta be difficult? Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians reveals the church was not responding well to Paul his heart was nearly broken. He’s been severe with them and despite his own near death experiences, this church didn't seem to care about him or it’s purpose.
Paul writes, “But I determined this within myself, that I would not come again to you in sorrow. For if I make you sorrowful, then who is he who makes me glad but the one who is made sorrowful by me? 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.” (2 Cor 2:1-3)
God did not allow him to come when he said he would and now Paul clarifies God’s plan for both him and them. After all, Paul wants what any pastor wants: for his people to respond to the teaching of scripture, not just sit and listen and do nothing. The people of God should be responding to God. Jesus said so plainly, “If you love me, keep my commandments.”
Now Paul writes (in my own words), “If I come now, it is not going to be a pleasant visit for both of us. When we do meet again, I want to do so without sorrow. If I stepped on your toes, I’m sorry--I was aiming for your heart. Won’t you make me happy by obeying Biblical counsel? I am writing you now to get the hard part out of the way. I have confidence you will give me joy by changing your mind.”
Let’s be clear: these are not words of a wishy-washy pastor, but one who has a made up mind. His determination to not come in sorrow is based on the faithfulness of God--if the church will let God be God, let the Holy Spirit do His work.