This is an interesting chapter. You can feel Paul’s love and concern about how the Corinthians are accepting of him. Actually one of the subplots of 2 Corinthians is the importance of relationships. Early on he is concerned about his relationship with the Corinthians and their relationship with one another. I have found this to be true that when you are in the midst of weakness from affliction relationships matter more than ever.
It is no secret that the past three years have been life altering for Brenda and I and at the heart of the struggle and change has been how things changed with our relationships. So, as I found myself diagnosed with cancer and dealing with the rhythms of treatment the relationships were what mattered, I love how God in his grace gave me a phone call during cancer treatment that helped begin the process towards restoration in the things that matter most, relationships.
Paul has made a difficult decision and you can hear the angst he feels with this. His difficult decision was to write the Corinthian’s a challenging letter. Making these kinds of difficult decisions and not knowing how they will impact your relationships is gut wrenching. He is almost on “pins and needles” wondering how the church has received this and how it has impacted his relationship with them. See what he says in 7:7, “Make room in your heart for us.”
He is effusive towards them. He says in 7:4, “In all our afflictions, I am overflowing with joy.” He speaks of being in Macedonia of having a body that had on rest, but being afflicted at every turn – fighting without and within. We don’t know exactly what he is referring to. Perhaps he is speaking of his conflict with the Corinthian church. I tend to think that he is making a general comment to his suffering for the faith. The Apostle Paul and his team did not have an easy go in most places. The Gospel was confrontational and he was afflicted because of it – fighting within and without.
What I love the most about this chapter is that in the midst of the fighting without and fear within, God comforts him with news from Corinth which causes great overflowing joy in his life. In the midst of the affliction and suffering he is comforted – from unexpected places.
Oh, how I loved that phone call. With tears streaming down my face God comforted me with news from unexpected places. It is true that relationships do matter. God will comfort and bring joy but sometimes not where you are expecting or with the direct struggle you are dealing with. I would love to hear “you are healed” but sometimes the words we receive are other words and from different places. These to bring us joy. An unexpected word of testimony about a past deed or word said in someone’s life or even a moment of peaceful quiet in your soul or a glimpse of the greatness of your Creator, all bring overflowing joy.
Joy comes from the beginning of the restoration of relationships that were torn in the midst of the struggle. Sometimes hard words must be said. Many times the hard words said are difficult for the one who is saying them. But because relationships matter and restoration can happen in Christ . . . therefore, we are comforted (7:13).