When Alexander Whyte (1837-1921), the great Scottish preacher, was a boy, he badly injured his arm in a threshing machine. Instead of going to a hospital for almost certain amputation, he was treated at home by a neighbor. When the boy complained of his suffering, she simply said to him, “I like the pain. I like the pain.” She knew it was the first step to recovery.

Years later when people complained that Whyte’s sermons were too critically soul-searching, he would reply, “I like the pain. I like the pain.” He believed that conviction of sin was needed for their spiritual healing.

Pain may be discipline from God for disobedience to His Word. But sometimes when we suffer pain, we wrongly interpret God’s purpose in it. While prayerfully examining our lives to detect disobedience, we ought to consider another possible reason for our affliction. Pain may be God’s pruning of our already fruitful lives to make us more spiritually productive (Jn. 15:2). The Lord desires that we bear “much fruit” so that we will glorify Him (v.8).

If you’re going through a painful time, God’s purpose may be to make you more spiritually fruitful.