Have you ever heard of the word “humdudgeon”? That’s what I thought! I had never heard of the word “humdudgeon” either but I innocently happened upon this word recently in one of my favorite devotionals. The author says that this word means, “a loud complaint about a trifle.”
I have tried to find “humdudgeon” in several respected dictionaries but it is just not there.
However – I do like the word. I like it very much. So, let’s assume that it is, indeed, an actual word and that its meaning is correct.
Humdudgeon: a loud complaint about a trifle.
Do you know anyone who is in the habit of allowing a humdudgeon or two to come out of his or her mouth?
Perhaps your children are known for loud and scratchy humdudgeons. Perhaps that person that you work with … or your mother-in-law … or your neighbor is well-acquainted with this archaic, yet useful word: humdudgeon.
Nearly every person that I know has at one time complained about something that is merely a trifle! People are upset about politics, the economy, the weather, their sports teams, traffic, their health … and the list goes on and on and on.
Humdudgeon. What a great, awful word!
Perhaps we should all consider taking our emotional temperatures this week and writing down every complaint that comes out of our powerful mouths. Don’t be easy on yourself, but be painfully honest … write down each word of whining that you verbally express.
May I tell you a few stories about people who refused to complain and whine? These noble characters certainly deserved to throw a humdudgeon or two in the direction of history but they remained pure and resilient in their approach to life
Read about this man’s life story:
He failed in business as age 22.
Defeated for political office at 23.
Failed in business again at 24.
Fiancée died when he was 26.
Defeated for political office again at 29, 31, 34, 39, 46, 47 and 49.
Married at 33 to a very difficult woman.
Only one of four sons lived past age 18.
His name, of course, is Abraham Lincoln and he is one of the greatest presidents to ever have lived. He didn’t allow his enormous disappointments in life to hold him back from his destiny. When I read about Abraham Lincoln’s life, I sincerely wonder if I have ever had a problem worth mentioning!
Corrie ten Boom is one of my heroines of the faith. These are a few highlights from her life:
She never married.
She was always overweight.
She always lived at home with her parents.
She was arrested and taken to a concentration camp for hiding Jews in the family home during World War II.
Her entire family died in the concentration camp.
Corrie didn’t know the meaning of the word, “humdudgeon”! Every morning in the German concentration camp, Corrie jumped to her feet and enthusiastically sang, “Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus!”
Wow! What an extraordinary woman! She actually thanked God for the fleas in her bed because it kept the German guards from coming in!
There was not a humdudgeon in Corrie’s vocabulary of choice!
Do you remember the story of Paul and Silas? When they had been beaten and thrown into a Roman prison cell, these men didn’t utter one humdudgeon but instead they sang songs of praise to their loving Father!
And what happened due to the unbelievable choice of these wounded and imprisoned men? Well … God sent an earthquake to loosen their chains and to set them free. If God did it for Paul and Silas, I have a feeling that He will do it for you as well!
There is also a sad group of people in the Bible that complained loudly and often! These people defined the very word, “humdudgeon”. Let me remind you of their woeful tale –
The Israelites were miraculously set free from the Egyptians, they were guided by the cloud of God’s presence, they walked through the roaring Red Sea on dry ground, they ate supernatural food and yet still they whined.
“Nevertheless, with most of them God was not well-pleased, for their bodies are scattered in the wilderness.” – I Corinthians 10:5 – NKJV
When a child of God chooses to whine rather than to worship, it leads that precious believer into a wilderness experience that is hard to escape.
What will indeed lead you out of the wilderness and away from spiritual death is the determinate to worship and then to embrace sweet contentment.
Worship + contentment = trust.
God’s goodness and His mercy really are following you all the days of your life regardless of what your circumstances might be.
Even God’s “no” has His heart of goodness stamped upon it!
“But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment.” – I Timothy 6:6.
Perhaps the opposite of the word “humdudgeon” is the word “contentment.” Maybe the very things about which we are tempted to whine and complain are actually a miraculous opportunity for us to embrace contentment instead.
Perhaps the true value of difficult circumstances in life is not in verbalizing them but is found in choosing to die to them and then determining to trust God instead.
Every difficult circumstance in life brings with it an opportunity to die to self and to trust in the goodness of God.
No more humdudgeons for me, my friend! This singular word will never be found in my dictionary of life!
Rather, I am compelled by the amazing power of the lives of Abraham Lincoln, of Corrie ten Boom and of Paul and Silas to trust rather than worry, to worship rather than whine and to refuse a spirit of complaining and embrace a spirit of contentment.
Be gone with you, humdudgeon! My days of complaining about the ridiculous are over and gone!
Thanks for listening to my heart this week. As you know by now, my heart is truly not a perfect heart but it is a heart that is filled to overflowing with gratitude for the life I have been given and for the people who walk with me. And, it continues to be a heart that is relentlessly chasing after God and all that He is!
* Portions of this blog were influenced by the writings of Elisabeth Elliot in her book, “Keep a Quiet Heart.”