Opportunity for Great Joy


What trials are you facing today? Not court proceedings or legal things, what ordeals and hardships make your life hard to bear? You may be facing one or more life trials right now. Life trials bring us pain and suffering. They bring us distress. None of us want them. Yet, if you are drawing breaths, if you are reading these words you know life brings troubles. If you are not in a life trial now, you also know one is coming, likely soon.

What if we could consider life trials as opportunities? No, my sanity is intact. The idea that a trial in life is really an opportunity is not mine. One with infinite wisdom is the originator of the idea that trials in life are a chance for joy. There is an example we could consider.

To begin think about shyness. Call it a fear of people. Perhaps shyness around others is one of your life trials. Our example is a bird. A very shy bird around people. This bird is large, but shy. It would seem that being large would eliminate shyness. For the Pileated Woodpecker shyness is safety. Shyness for this bird is not a trial or trouble, it is an opportunity for protection. Shyness keeps this woodpecker nearly as large as a crow alive.DSC_0003_1532sig

Pileated woodpeckers are found in forests in most of North America. Find them in the hemlock forests of the northwest, the maple forests of the northeast, the cypress swamps of the south and forested places in between including Canada. This big bird likes big trees. Nearly a foot and one half long and weighing almost 1 pound, pileated woodpeckers are bird giants compared to other birds found in the same habitat. Its size, including a jumbo-sized beak allows it to feast on the number one preferred food of its diet: carpenter ants. The colossal beak soft at birth and bone hard in adulthood is an impeccable insect harvesting tool. That is, insects living inside the hardwood of trees. This long-billed wonder can excavate holes in trees nearly 20 inches deep and up to ½ a foot wide at the bottom. John James Audubon, one of America’s premier bird artists, testified of pileated woodpeckers stripping the bark off entire trees to satisfy their ant cravings.  He added that almost always the entrance hole of the pileated nest was found on the fair weather/sun-filled south side of trees. Audubon, a careful observer of nature, also wrote these words about the pileated woodpecker, he noted, “The Pileated Woodpecker is every-where to be found in the wild woods, although scarce and shy in the peopled districts.”DSC_0009edsig

We look at shyness in people as a liability. God put it in the Pileated Woodpecker (and all other animals) to preserve its life.

We see shyness in the pileated woodpecker. But in the bird, it is not a trial, it is a gift from God. And God has given us his words regarding life trials, … Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your perseverance has a chance to grow. So, let it grow, for when your perseverance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.  If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. James 1:2-5

Let’s go back to your current trial(s)in life. Can you really count them as joy, even “great” joy? There are many reasons why the answer is yes. A big reason has feathers. You can see it. God cares for and protects the magnificent pileated woodpecker. He has given it everything it needs: beak, long tongue, stiff balance giving tail, large body, loud call, even long life; and yes- shyness. God freely provides all these gifts for a bird of his creation.DSC_0013edsig

You are different. God loves you. He knows your heart. He knows the trials you are facing. He knows the trials you will face in the days ahead. He never leaves you. In his eternal Word, the Bible, he tells us to “consider it an opportunity for great joy” when we encounter trials.  Really? Yes, certainly. We have evidence God’s Word is true. One clear indication He has given to us is a large billed, loud and very shy woodpecker.

Are you in a deep trial today? You could let the trial destroy you. Or, you could take God’s word and consider it an opportunity for great joy.


Author: davidwellis

What does a grandfather, husband, former public school teacher and Education Specialist for the United States Fish and Wildlife Service with many life experiences in nature do with them? A naturalist with a camera-makes outside a daily destination. My confidence is that God will guide my words, and photos. We live in a magnificent world, come and look at it with me through eyes, lens and words. To God be the glory. Current Profile Photo- Prickly Ash, the name summarizes this brushy undergrowth well. It fascinates me with its thorny branches. Seeing a vine wrapped around the trunk called for a photo.

4 thoughts on “Opportunity for Great Joy”

  1. Wow, great narrative and one of my favorite pictures yet. The Pileated Woodpecker hitting the wood was like a mini-explosion with snow flying. Very cool!!

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