Though it may sound like something that comes from an old English novel, or perhaps the language of the Hobbits, the word humdudgeon is rarely found in literature and appears even more removed from recent vocabulary.
Are you at all curious? When I first heard the word on a podcast entitled “Humdudgeons Among Us” with Elisabeth Elliot, my interest piqued at learning a new word.
Anyone else out there love learning new words?!
Humdudgeon is a Scottish word that was used to describe “a useless complaint.” Elliot used the word for “a loud complaint about a trifle.” In other words, we can have a case of the humdudgeons if we spend far too much time complaining or whining, especially about petty inconveniences. While we all will most certainly face some degree of difficulty or hardship, the person who chooses to focus on the the things they don’t like will very often become trapped in a vicious cycle of negativity.
What is the cure for this case of humdudgeons? Gratitude!
Gratitude always precedes joy and peace
Did you ever think about how the season of Thanksgiving prepares us for Christmas? We spend time being thankful and that gratitude prepares us for the season of joy and peace. Philippians 4:6-9 is a passage reminds us that peace comes through Jesus. If we will commit our lives to him with an attitude of thanksgiving, He will help us keep our eyes focused on what is good and true and right. Verse 9 assures us that when we heed these timeless words, peace will follow.
“Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise—dwell on these things. Do what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:6-8
Frankincense is actually produced from the Boswellia Tree. “The milky liquid that exudes hardens on exposure to air into droplets or “tears,” which are then easily detached by the collector about two weeks later.” [House of Frankincense] Those “tears” were used in the incense offerings of the Israelites (see Exodus 30), burned for its aroma, and used in oils and ointments for perfume and for its anti-inflammatory properties [Herb & Root].
Why would I add this information to a post about humdudgeons? Because I can see how the inclusion of a more well-known word like frankincense might help us understand how vital it is to offer our tears to the Lord. Life can be hard. There are going to be struggles and difficulties in this life, but God wants us to surrender those tears to Him as a fragrant offering of praise. My life is but a vapor, and only God can give me the grace to face whatever comes with a heart of gratitude.
Here are four things God often reminds me of:
- I have much to be grateful for. While the world plays the comparison game, God wants me to instead focus on the bigger picture. He has given me far more than I deserve! His grace and mercy alone should awaken in us a heart of gratitude.
- Gratitude is a matter of the heart. When we carry bitterness, unforgiveness or anger in our heart, we are guilty of sin. While it is true that God loves us even though we are sinners, we must not forget that He hates sin. Sin carries a penalty, and that penalty cost Jesus His life. We should never take that lightly!
- Being thankful is a matter of perspective. Maybe you’ve only seen in on television or online, but it only takes one trip to a third world country to recognize how blessed we really are. Do you know what I found amazing? Through many years of travelling internationally for mission trips, I have met many believers who have very little of what the world would say is of value, yet they find joy in the smallest of blessings. Don’t ever forget that circumstances or possessions should not dictate our joy!
- Focusing on myself is always a dangerous game. I am much more at risk of being a whining, complaining humdudgeon when my eyes are on me. In Luke 10, Jesus was asked, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”, and He replied with His own question, “What is written in the law?”. The man who claimed to be an expert in the law knew what was written in Deuteronomy 6:
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.”
I don’t want to be a humdudgeon, do you? I want to be the kind of person who focuses on what is good. I want my life to reflect a lasting joy–despite any difficulty, and make the choice daily to be a blessing to others. When my eyes are on Jesus (and not just myself or my circumstances!), He opens them to a brighter world.
If you want to experience Him through eyes of faith, and are willing to seek Him, He will reveal truth to you! He will guide you to see the not only the truth about yourself , but the truth about who He is–and that truth will lead you to freedom. True freedom! Freedom from whatever it is that ails you–even a case of the humdudgeons.
You can read about how to find that kind of FAITH here: FAITH