Pastor's book provides spiritual lessons on processing pain

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God has not spared Adam Hicks from pain.

Hicks, the pastor of Desperation Church, has had to overcome the emotional scars associated with sexual abuse that occurred in his youth. Last year, he was blindsided by the dissolution of his marriage.

His faith carried him through those dark days. Now Hicks has returned to the pulpit, is engaged to be married and has released his first book, "Pain Not Wasted: When Pain Becomes Purpose."

"It is to help people deal with pain correctly. It doesn't have to own them forever. We can own our pain for a season, or we can let it own us for the rest of our lives," Hicks said.

"Pain Not Wasted" is not a step-by-step guide to processing pain. Instead, it provides guidance on peeling back the layers of it.

The first chapter is an encouragement to "feel it, face it, embrace it."

The human response, Hicks said, is to cover up the pain with food, drugs, sex or some other temporary diversion. Hicks chose sleep. 

However, through the Holy Spirit, Hicks realized over time that he would have to face it eventually, just as the Bible's Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego had to face the flames for being faithful.

"Before God ever takes the fire away or changes the situation, sometimes He wants to meet us in the midst of it first," Hicks said. 

Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego came out of the fire unharmed and not even smelling like smoke, unlike those who have tried to avoid the pain of what they have experienced.

"There are so many people you come in contact with who smell like what they've been through. You can hear it in their conversations and see it in their relationships," Hicks said.  

The second chapter details the importance of focusing on what God seems to want to be doing instead of seeking answers to the question of "Why?"

The third chapter is on relationships. 

Those who engage in gossip or who offer advice without having dealt appropriately with their own pain cannot be part of someone else's healing process, according to Hicks.

"It is of the upmost importance to have the right voices in your life. That's people who love Jesus, love you and love anyone who hurt you. They may not be best friends with them, but they see them through the eyes of Jesus," he said. 

Though the members of Desperation Church were with him every step of the way, Hicks also addresses what to do when the people in your life have forgotten your pain.

The fourth chapter is devoted to the human desire to control and manipulate the outcome of a situation. 

The fifth chapter is on the power of forgiveness, and the sixth chapter is on worshipping in the midst of the pain.  

In the seventh chapter, Hicks addresses the tendency to blame God for the situation.

"God doesn't cause it. He does allow it, and He never wastes it. In the end, it does become all God's fault because He redeems it and makes it something that it never would have been," Hicks said.

"Pain Not Wasted" is now available on Amazon and at all major booksellers. 

An online community group devoted to applying the lessons of the book will begin on Facebook the week of Jan. 5. A book signing is scheduled for Jan. 7 at Lavish Coffee Bar.