To Adam he [God] said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree… cursed is the ground because of you. Genesis 3:17 (NIV)
The only experience we have is life in a fallen world. This is an abnormal world that is at war with God. God made this world, but evil powers have ravaged it.
That means your experience in this world is an extraordinary mixture of good and evil. If you draw a mental picture of God from your experiences in life, you will get God all mixed up with evil, and you will never have a clear view of what He is like.
This is a particular problem for those who have experienced great suffering. If you have seen great cruelty or torture in war, if you have been sexually abused, your experience has been made painful by the shadow of evil.
If your experience was the artist who painted the picture of God that you carry in your mind, then your image of God will be deeply distorted.
This was Naomi’s problem in the book of Ruth. Naomi suffered because her husband made a poor decision. He decided to move to Moab, and when the family arrived, he died. Naomi had to raise two sons in a foreign land. She raised them, and they married, but then they died, too.
Naomi came back to her old home in Bethlehem with a broken heart. She told her friends, “Don’t call me Naomi…Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter” (Ruth 1:20). She had taken her picture of God from her bitter experience. She believed in God, but she was quite certain God was against her.
Building a picture of God from your experience seems very natural, but if you have your understanding of what God is like based on your experience of life in this fallen world, you will have a distorted picture.
Can you think of any negative experiences that may have distorted your view of God?