by Kyra Riley Daniels
I recently watched a Netflix docuseries called Babies, which follows multiple infants’ development within their first years. My favorite episode is the one on growth spurts. This episode showcased the work of Michelle Lampl, MD, Ph.D., who is a professor at Emory University and the Director of Emory University’s Center for the Study of Human Health. Her studies reveal infants actually increase in size significantly within a short period of time. This is the interesting part: Lampl found infant growth occurs overnight! I was shocked to see her pages and pages of data that recorded a baby’s length could progress centimeters in a 24-hour period. I was also surprised to learn how this change affected babies. A baby’s attitude can go from calm to clingy and fussy. I know some of you mothers reading this blog post can relate. Perhaps you have stayed up all night, trying to rock your child to sleep during his or her seasons of intense physical change?
Babies are not the only ones who become fussy when they experience change. Change affects adults too. We become irritable and impatient when “normal” as we know it shifts. I have noticed this reality in my own life. Recently, my husband and I encountered many changes in a short amount of time. We moved states, lived out of suitcases for weeks, bought a house, and started a renovation process. The adjustments to a different city and a different stage in life affected our mood. We stressed over little things. We became short-tempered with each other. I felt an uneasiness in my stomach and a tremble throughout my limbs. I was scared of the changes and wanted stability.
However, instead of leaning on God, I saw how this season drew me away from Him. My desire for delighting in His presence through prayer and Scripture reading waned. I know certain seasons allow for more consistency than others, and God always extends grace. But, I sought to understand the spiritual truth behind my reaction to change. Then, I remembered the docuseries. I remembered the baby who wept during his growth spurts and the parent who came to ease his aches. In that example, I saw the Father’s heart toward us. Our response to change may cause us to stress, but God always comes to restore our joy and peace in Him.
A Time to Seek the Lord’s Comfort
As a growing baby seeks her parent’s warm cuddles, we too should seek our Father’s comfort in change. Change brings out of us a need to be soothed. Our soul longs to know all is well. This relief can be found in the Lord, who is sovereign over all circumstances. When change rattles us, God picks us up and secures us in His arms. At times, it may feel difficult to feel the nearness of God because He is Spirit. However, we can read verses like Isaiah 66:13, which say, “As a mother comforts her son, so I will comfort you, and you will be comforted in Jerusalem” (CSB). We can meditate on these verses until we feel His embrace through His Word. We also can know God’s comfort through the saving work of Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 1:3, 5 states, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort… For just as the sufferings of Christ overflow to us, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.” Because of Jesus, there will one day be an end to all discomfort. He made a way for us to experience the hug of God for eternity.
A Time to Feed on God’s Word
Babies eat more when they go through growth spurts. This response could be another soothing mechanism, or it could be the body’s response to fill up on nourishment as it grows. In the latter case, at this important stage of life, infants instinctually know their need to acquire sustenance for cell, tissue, and organ development. Our bodies react similarly in change. We crave something to fuel our spirits. God provides nourishment through His Word. We need to feast on the Bible when dealing with the stress of instability. In Matthew 4:4 states, Jesus states, “It is written: Man must not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Scripture helps us to center on the promises of God, His character, our identity in Him. Furthermore, Scripture points us to Jesus, who is the bread of life. Jesus said, “No one who comes to me will ever be hungry, and no one who believes in me will ever be thirsty again” (John 6:35). Jesus provides what we hunger for most: restoration from sin.
A Time for Maturity
Periods of infant growth also indicate developmental milestones. Psychologists claim when a baby goes through a growth spurt, he or she will soon hit other physical targets like rolling over and crawling. So, though babies may react negatively to their overnight length progression, these intense changes are actually positive. Growth spurts are signs that maturity is coming, that soon a baby will pass from infant to toddler. This physical reality points to a spiritual one. Life’s abrupt changes are opportunities for maturity in Christ. They indicate God wants us to reach the target of becoming like Christ and trusting more and more in His grace. For example, 1 Peter 2:2 states, “Like newborn infants, desire the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow up into your salvation.” God guides us when we take our “first steps” in the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). He does not leave us alone to reach maturity. But, with each season of change, God helps us to be content. One day, we will no longer be children who stress, cling to the past, and are tossed like waves when circumstances shift. When Jesus returns to establish His permanent kingdom, we will be completely stable in His love.