Determining the cause of pain
But how can we tell in a given situation whether our pain is from the cross or the rod? Pain is pain from whatever source it comes. Jonah in flight from the will of God suffered no worse storm than did Paul in the center of God?s will; the same wild sea threatened the life of both. And Daniel in the lion?s den was in trouble as deep as was Jonah in the whale?s belly. The nails bit as deep into the hands of Christ dying for the sins of the world as into the hands of the two thieves dying for their own sins. How then may we distinguish the cross from the rod? I think the answer is plain. When tribulation comes we have but to note whether it is imposed or chosen. ?Blessed are ye, ? said our Lord, ?when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you? (Matt. 5:11). But that is not all. Four other words He added: they are ?falsely, for my sake.? These words show that the suffering must come voluntarily, that it must be chosen in the larger choice of Christ and righteousness. If the accusation men cry against us is true, no blessedness follows.
A W Tozer