In January, 1861, a 12-year-old Mexican boy named Felix Ward was abducted from his adopted father’s ranch in Southern Arizona. His father, John Ward, reported the incident at Fort Buchanan, and Lt. Bascom and his men were sent to search the trail. Because the local band of eastern Chiracahua Apaches, led by their chief, Cochise, were the only native Americans known to travel in the direction the trail led, the finger of blame was pointed to Cochise and his band; and when the army arrived at Apache Junction in Southeastern Arizona, Cochise was called in for questioning. He and his people were held captive, but Cochise managed to escape with hostages from Bascom’s regiment of men. The Apaches who remained in the custody of Lt. Bascom were later killed, as were Cochise’s hostages, and an 11-year conflict between Cochise and the American army was born.
The problem was, the Chiracahua Apaches actually weren’t responsible for the abduction of Felix Ward. It would later be learned that it was actually the Pinal Band of the Western Apaches who took the boy…
Before we go blaming the American army and the eastern Chiracahua Apaches for starting a war that didn’t need to have been fought, let’s all take a look at our own lives. We’ve all done something similar, and most of us do so on a semi-regular basis: Whenever something goes wrong, our natural tendency is to point the finger of blame. This is, in fact, so entrenched in our human nature that we see it even as far back as Eden. God asked: “’Have you eaten from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat?’ The man replied, ‘It was the woman you gave me who gave me the fruit, and I ate it.’ Then the Lord God asked the woman, ‘What have you done?’ ‘The serpent deceived me,’ she replied. ‘That’s why I ate it.’” (Genesis 3:11-13 NLT).
The problem is, do we truly know who is to blame?
Remember that the American army had very good reason to believe that Cochise and his people took the boy. This didn’t change the facts, however. Cochise was actually very innocent of this particular crime. Our own accusations are also usually based on what we see as very pointed evidence. But do we see all? Do we truly know the reasons behind what happens? Or are we, perhaps, led astray by our logical conclusions?
The Bible warns us against judging others: “Do not judge…” (Matt. 7:1a NLT). It even tells us that there are serious consequences for judging others: “For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Matt. 7:2 NLT). I don’t know about you, but I’ve often wondered about this. Why does God judge us so harshly for looking for blame where blame is due?
It is because God knows the potential consequences of our judging. He knows that we do not see the whole picture, and that in our limited view, the wrong person is often blamed. He also knows that this blame-game can result in horrific consequences, such as an 11-year war between the army and Cochise.
Perhaps even worse, don’t we do this all the time with God Himself? We strike out against Him because, we reason, He could have stopped the trouble but didn’t. All the while, the real enemy, the one who truly deserves the blame, the devil himself, continues his rampages of death and destruction. The truth of the matter is, there in only One who sees all, our all-wise Heavenly Father. He is the only One who has complete knowledge, therefore He is truly the only One who can judge fairly.
The next time trouble arises and you are tempted to point the finger of blame, remember Felix Ward’s abduction and the war it caused. Don’t blame one another. Don’t blame God. Instead, put your energies into fighting the one who is truly the cause of it all: “Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8 NLT).
In His love,
Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two adult boys, Author — “Aboard God’s Train — A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer”, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, The Illustrator, a four-times-a-week internet newsletter, and the Sermon Illustrator website, all with Answers2Prayer Ministries.