[L For] Even if my letter [C Paul’s “severe” letter that he wrote after his painful visit; see 2:3–4, 9] made you ·sad [grieve], I am not sorry I wrote it. At first I was sorry, because it made you ·sad [grieve], but you ·were sad [grieved] only for a short time.
For even when we arrived in Macedonia we had a wretched time with trouble all round us—wrangling outside and anxiety within. Not but what God, who cheers the depressed, gave us the comfort of the arrival of Titus. And it wasn’t merely his coming that cheered us, but the comfort you had given him, for he could tell us of your eagerness to help, your deep sympathy and keen interest on my behalf. All that made me doubly glad to see him. For although my letter had hurt you I don’t regret it now (as I did, I must confess, at one time). I can see that the letter did upset you, though only for a time, and now I am glad I sent it, not because I want to hurt you but because it made you grieve for things that were wrong. In other words, the result was to make you sorry as God would have had you sorry, and not merely to make you offended by what we said. The sorrow which God uses means a change of heart and leads to salvation—it is the world’s sorrow that is such a deadly thing. You can look back now and see how the hand of God was in that sorrow. Look how seriously it made you think, how eager it made you to prove your innocence, how indignant it made you, and in some cases, how afraid! Look how it made you long for my presence, how it stirred up your keenness for the faith, how ready it made you to punish the offender! Yes, that letter cleared the air for you as nothing else would have done.
I 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. You let the distress bring you to God, not drive you from him. The result was all gain, no loss.
I knew you would be upset with my last letter, but I do not regret sending it. If there were times I did have second thoughts, it was because I could see that the letter did hurt you, even if only for a while.
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