Here Animal – Read This


What should we do…with a man who is more animal than human?

Such a man was placed in one of our state prisons. He hated everyone, especially the guards. When ordered to do anything, he reacted in rage. Several guards were injured during his violent outbursts. Prison authorities really don’t want inmates attacking their guards!

Each time the prisoner attacked someone, they put him in “The Hole.” This was a slog underground cell – 8 feet by 8 feet. The solid concrete ceiling, walls and floor were 3 feet thick! The l6~foot-high ceiling was constructed of cement and steel. In the center of the ceiling there was a small door made of steel bars, and this was heavily bolted. No man has ever escaped from “The Hole.”

The prisoner’s entry into “The Hole” was without fanfare. Guards opened the ceiling door and lowered a ladder. The prisoner edged his way down into his hole and watched, no doubt with trepidation, as the ladder disappeared through the small square of light above him.

State laws had set the maximum stay in such total isolation at seven days per visit. Three times a day, guards lowered bread and water through the ceiling door and into the prisoner’s hands.

For most men, the 7-day “treatment” was sufficient. From then on they usually followed the rules. But a guard told me that this prisoner seemed to have no control over his hatred for all men. When a guard told him to do anything, he would lash out at the guard with his fists, his feet or any weapon he could find. Within 24 hours of his being removed from “The Hole,” he was again forced through the steel-barred door, and down into the cement tomb. There he bothered no one for another seven days.

After weeks and months of 7-day trips to this gruesome pit, the inmate became more like an animal than a man. He eventually was known as “The Animal.”

One day the guard who was on duty had just finished reading my book, Prison to Praise. He thought, if any man ever needed this book, it’s “The Animal.” But he despised the prisoner so much that he didn’t want to pick up the book, bend over and drop it through the steel bars. So he aimed his foot, kicked the book through the bars, and hollered, “Here, Animal, read this.”

Alone, with nothing to do, the prisoner read Prison to Praise using the faint light that came between the steel bars 16 feet above him.

Later the prisoner told me what happened. As he read the book, he mocked everything I had written. He scoffed at the idea of thanking God for things that had happened to him. In derision and scorn he said, “OK, God, I thank you for that 3-foot-thick cement wall. . . .See, it’s still there. Thanking you didn’t do anything.”

Item by item, the prisoner thanked God for each wall, the floor, the 16-foot-high ceiling and the steel-barred door. Laughing and mocking, he continued to challenge God. “Why don’t you do something, God?” Then he thanked God for the damp coldness, the numerous cockroaches, his hunger pangs and his aching bones.

The prisoner told me that after exhausting his thankfulness for everything he could see, he thanked God for the guards that he hated, the prisoners who despised him, the judge who sentenced him, his worthless attorney, the witnesses who lied about him, the policemen who arrested him, the people who had kicked and beaten him when he was a boy and for his drunken, abusive parents. The list of people to hate seemed endless.

When “The Animal” finished his list, he went back and started all over. Hour after hour he laughed at God and dared Him to do something, anything- as he gave mocking praise and thanksgiving.

On the seventh day, the ladder was again lowered and the prisoner crawled out. The guard told me that he was totally flabbergasted when the man came through the trap door. He was smiling! He had never seen him smile. Even his eyes looked happy. He was a different man!

The prisoner told me what had happened. After days of thanking God, something had occurred that defies a natural explanation. A “man” had appeared in his cell and said, “I love you,” just those three words. “I knew it was true,” ‘The Animal’ said. “His eyes were full of love for me.”

The following hours were filled with genuine thanksgiving to God. The prisoner realized that he had waited his entire life to have that one moment with the man he now knew to be Jesus!

The guard told me that the prisoner was a living miracle to behold. Instead of lashing out at people, he wanted to hug everyone! Gradually, the entire prison populace believed the man must have met with Jesus; he had miraculously become so much like Him!

Eventually the prisoner was released, pardoned by the governor, and became a prison chaplain..

Why did Jesus appear to that man? He possibly knew Satan had such a hold on “The Animal” that there was no other way the man could be set free. I know that praising God has power! We never know what may happen when we are obedient to God’s command. He said, “Give thanks always for all things, unto God and the Father in the name of Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:20). He also said, “All things work together for good to them that love God” (Romans 8:28).

Why doesn’t Jesus appear in person to everyone who has a severe problem? I can’t answer that. I know that He said, “It is best for you that I go away, for if I don’t, the Comforter won’t come” (John 16:7 TLB). It seems that for reasons unknown to us, most of us must go through difficult experiences in order to find our way to God.

Jesus told of the rich man who was in Hell. On earth he had so much wealth that he didn’t know what to do with it all. The poor man, Lazarus, was covered in sores as he lay on the steps of the rich man’s palace. “Now,” Jesus said, “the rich man is in torment while Lazarus’ joy is eternal.” In some way Lazarus’ suffering led him to God.

Jesus said it is difficult for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. I believe that when He said “a rich man,” He meant everyone who has an abundance of many good things. If we don’t have problems, we don’t seem to turn to God. Therefore, we often need problems.

In my first book, Prison to Praise, I told the story of how God clearly and dramatically convinced me that He wanted me to thank Him for everything that had ever happened to me at first I couldn’t understand how thanking Him for everything could do anything worthwhile. But He persisted, and eventually I began to understand.

As I continued to learn from Him, I wrote a second book, Power in Praise, in which I explained what I had learned.

As people read these two books, letters and phone calls came to me by the thousands. People told of an experiences as they practiced what I had written. Many of their encounters were as dramatic as that of “The Animal” who was visited by our Lord Jesus.

God will meet every man’s and every woman’s needs, in whatever way He knows to be right for that person. Jesus’ promise was, “Come to Me, and I will give you rat” (Matthew 11:18).

You and I aren’t in “The Hole,” but we do have problems and needs. As we learn to believe that God is working for our good, we in a new way know and love His Son, Jesus.

There is indeed power in praising God, and it’s a power that is available to everyone!

Would you like to see this power working in your life? We urge you to read the books God inspired Merlin Carothers to write.