I must admit that I do not know very much about 2 Corinthians. 1 Corinthians is such a happier letter. So, I did some research and I learned quite a bit about Paul. He is perhaps at his most human in these particular passages. Frankly, he is upset at the Corinthians and the gossip he has heard of what they have said about him. So, he writes an angry letter. In this case, it works. If you read the rest of 2 Corinthians, Paul ends the letter (which, it is believed, is actually 2 or more letters) with a message of reconciliation.
But, how did he know that it would work? When I feel hurt, I don't always think straight. In fact, the natural response is to lash out - to hurt the person who is hurting you. I have never put my hurt feelings in a letter to the person. That would seem to immortalize the hurt and would just give the person something to use against me. What was Paul thinking? Did he think that the Corinthians would read his letter, sarcastic tone and all, and think that he had a good point? From what I understand, it took some time for Paul's relationship with the Corinthians to heal. This letter was, in fact, hurtful to them and they were not necessarily willing to bury the hatchet right away.
One thing is certain - Paul was driven in his service to God. As we read in yesterday's passage, Paul was also humbled in his service to God. I believe this served him well as he wrote this difficult part of the letter. Although he was personally hurt, he knew that the ultimate goal was to get the Corinthians to straighten up and fly right in their growth with the Lord. Since the goal was entirely unselfish, the letter worked. It took time, but eventually the Corinthians turned away from the evil they were doing that caused Paul the hurt to begin with.
Once again, we can learn from Paul. By remembering his place in God's plan, he was able to use his hurt feelings to fulfill unselfish goals. May we also come to understand our humble place and how best to respond to hurtful situations with the same outcome as Paul.