A breakdown before the breakthrough
Sometimes honest confrontation needs to happen. But many of us try to avoid it, because we’re afraid of the pain it brings. We’re afraid that we’ll make others angry. We’re afraid of losing them.
Paul was afraid that he had lost the congregation in Corinth after writing his first letter. He had to rebuke them. They were behaving badly and although he had remonstrated with them previously, they simply continued with their bad ways. The Corinthians could respond in two ways. They could dismiss him as a mad old man who knew nothing about life in Corinth or they could admit their mistakes, sow remorse and adjust their behaviour. Fortunately, they did not become angry and turn their backs on him, but realized that they were going in the wrong direction, repented honestly and changed the way they were living.
Paul reacted: 8I know I distressed you greatly with my letter. Although I felt awful at the time, I don’t feel at all bad now that I see how it turned out. The letter upset you, but only for a while. Now I’m glad—not that you were upset, but that you were jarred into turning things around. 9You let the distress bring you to God, not drive you from him. The result was all gain, no loss.
At one time or another, any marriage, any relationship has to be purified by fire. We get used to our way of life so easily that we come to believe that it is the only correct way of doing things. Then, when we’re confronted by the other person in the relationship, we get on our high horse and start defending as much as possible. That is how we’re put together. Sometimes it leads to big maracas as we try and defend our way of doing things.
And that is what the Corinthians did. They couldn’t understand Paul’s reaction at all. They’ve always been living like that; it was what they were familiar with. Their grandparents did it. Their parents did it. Their friends did it. Many emotions are released and at times like that everyone goes back to the default setting. They were hurt. How could Paul do it? How could he set upon them like that! He was hurting them; they were in pain. They wanted to cry because of the punches they had to endure.
But in their pain and hurt the Corinthians did the right thing. They turned to God. And in their sincere sadness, hurt, grief, and tears before God, understanding broke through. In a way they could see themselves reflected in God’s mirror; they could see how dirty they were. They could see God’s image of them and realise that they had to change to fit that image.
I don’t like confrontation. I’m a lover rather than a fighter. But sometimes I have to point out wrong things for the sake of the relationship and the person. Although I know it may hurt that person, I know that you reach for God in your hurt and that true remorse leads to new insight and wisdom. Allow me to repeat this. In your hurt you reach for God and true remorse leads to new insight and wisdom.
One of my friends always says: “You need a breakdown to get a breakthrough.”
We must realise that we do wrong things. When others point this out to us, we shouldn’t throw our toys out of the cot. No, we should act wisely. Put the wrong things under a microscope and get rid of them. Cry if you have to and let God comfort you. You will be surprised by everything that God will do for you.
What confrontations have you had in your life?
Did it make you sad?
Did you turn to God for comfort?
Lord, I realise that most of the time I have not reacted as I should have when wrong things in my life have been brought to my attention. I realise that I usually want to defend myself. I want to react with more wisdom. Please help me to recognise what I’m doing wrong. Please help me to show true remorse. Amen