Have you ever heard of the “Ugly Cry?” The Urban Dictionary describes it as “your eyes getting puffy, red and bloodshot, your nose running off your face, your skin getting blotchy and red, and your facial features bunching up in a rather unattractive way.” It’s not a pretty sight. But did you know there is also such a thing as the “ugly praise?”
Before I describe what I mean, let me explain its opposite—the “pretty praise.” You’re probably more familiar with this one because, out of the two, it’s the easier praise by far. It’s what you find yourself regularly doing at church and home. The “pretty praise” is that serene “thanks-be-to-God” look you get when life is good. The bills are paid, the house is clean, the bank account is full, the kids are behaving, and the in-laws are leaving town. The pretty praise takes no real effort since it’s easy to be thankful to God when you’re living on easy street, right?
But to be thankful when you’re in the storm’s eye—well, that’s something else entirely. Are you raising your voice in praise even when the bills are stacking up, the checks are bouncing, the house looks like a hurricane hit it, the kids are staying out all night, and the in-laws have decided to stay for the whole month? Are you praising when life doesn’t make any sense at all?
If not, let me let you in on a little secret. God prefers the ugly praiser. He prefers the person who can thank God even when the storm is surging. Like David in the lion’s den or Jonah in the belly of the whale—God blesses the ugly praiser.
Praising when life is hard isn’t easy. It’s the last thing on your mind. You’re so focused on the problem at hand that God and his infinite blessings are not even in the picture. Yet, the moment you take your eyes off the Lord, I guarantee you’re going to sink. Matthew 14:30 says, “But when [Peter] saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. ‘Save me, Lord!’ he shouted” (NIV).
Corrie Ten Boom, said it this way, “If you look at the world, you’ll be distressed; if you look within, you’ll be depressed; if you look at Christ, you’ll be at rest.”
God doesn’t expect perfection in the storm’s eye, but he does expect you to use your one, critical lifeline to Him. Only through Him will you not be stressed or depressed, but finally find rest.
BUT WHEN [PETER] SAW THE STRONG WIND AND THE WAVES, HE WAS TERRIFIED AND BEGAN TO SINK. ‘SAVE ME, LORD!’ HE SHOUTED.