21 Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, 22 set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. (2 Corinthians 1:21,22 NIV)
I suspect that most adults are aware of broken relationships in their life. In many cases we move on and develop new ones to replace the old. The depth of the past relationship will have much to do with how easily it is broken. After a physical move to another city or state most old relationships are replaced with new ones. The distance of the move and the depth of the old relationship will determine whether the relationship is broken or maintained.
Paul does not come across as a warm and cuddly people person by the way that he writes. In the words of this passage we get a picture of a man who is passionate about the people in the churches he has established. Paul is a missionary. Most missionaries are movers, and this means that they are also leavers. The missionaries I know love God and love people and leaving is always painful because of the relationships that will probably be broken on leaving. This was certainly true for Paul. He cared deeply for the people in the church in Corinth and was distressed by the unwillingness of some to obey his instruction. His relationship with some of the Corinthians had not just dissolved due to absence. These people had actively broken the relationship and rejected Paul and his teaching.
I cannot imagine attempting to correct serious issues in a congregation through occasional letters which take weeks or months to be delivered. I have too often chosen to write a letter to deal with a conflict when a face to face interaction would have been more productive. Almost every time I have made that choice it was motivated by a desire to save myself pain. Paul is different. His decision to not visit Corinth was based on his desire to minimize the pain that the Corinthians would experience in his presence.
The Corinthians were experiencing chaos and division within the church and opposition and persecution from outside the church. Still, Paul wants the Corinthians, and us, to know that we can stand firm because of our relationship with God. We belong to God and He confirms that by the presence of the Holy Spirit in us. Our current circumstances are not comfortable. Many are experiencing great pain and loss. Pray for your church leaders. They care about us and are daily challenged with difficult decisions about things that impact our physical and spiritual lives. May our response to them and to God be one that brings them joy as they see our joy in God and one another.