Did you know that baby incubators were initially dismissed and ridiculed by the world’s greatest physicians? It took displaying incubators at the Berlin World’s Fair (at the time, fairs were places to learn more about new technology) for them to be accepted as the life-saving contraptions that they were.
Incubators save lives. An incubator is an apparatus in which premature babies (born before their organs can develop) are placed to help them survive outside of the mother’s womb. It provides the right environmental conditions needed for the baby to grow and thrive.
There are 3 key purposes of the incubator:
Sets the right temperature – premature babies are less able to regulate their body temperature due to lack of body fat and poor skin health.
Protects the baby – from infection, allergens or any other environmental factors that may harm the baby (e.g. excessive noise or light).
Regulates the air humidity – this helps to maintain the integrity of the baby’s skin. The skin acts as a protective barrier and first line of defense against the attack of microorganisms.
Bottom line – incubators support growth.
At times, I’ve found myself referring to my most recent season of life as an “incubator” season. Walking through a chronic illness journey in the middle of a global health pandemic meant spending more days than I’d like within the confines of my home. It meant taking extra precautions by physically isolating myself until ready to re-enter the outside world.
Perhaps you’ve been in an incubator season in the past. From the fragility of illness to the restriction of bed rest during pregnancy, this season can take many forms in the journey of life. It can be a frustrating and lonely experience as you long to go back to the way life used to be.
I’ll admit, I initially viewed this season as an inconvenience. God had just birthed new dreams in me and then I was placed in my “incubator” almost immediately after. What’s up with that?!
In a previous blog post, An Atmosphere for Miracles, I talk about how God protects our atmosphere to grow our faith for miracles. Our faith for God to do the miraculous in our lives is influenced by the atmosphere that surrounds us.
I believe the same applies to our overall spiritual growth as Christ-followers. Sometimes, we need to walk through an incubator season in which God sets the right atmosphere to help us become more like Christ, to prepare us for what is to come.
As I’ve walked through this season, God has revealed to me a few reasons for this type of season.
1. God is reminding you that He is all you need
Straight after entering the world, a newborn is generally nurtured by skin-to-skin contact with his/her parents and nourished by the mother’s breast milk. These things are not accessible for a baby within an incubator.
Being in an incubator season, you have limited or no access to the usual things that sustain you. For me, that was work, ministry, socialising, volunteering and even the ability to live alone and have my own space. I didn’t realise how much I relied on these things in my life to give my life a sense of purpose, to fuel me.
It wasn’t until all these areas of my life were stripped away to nothing that I truly understood what it means to wholeheartedly depend on God as the source of all my needs. He became my one true source of sustenance.
“Cast your burden upon the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.” | Psalm 55:22
2. God is protecting you (in ways you don’t expect)
As mentioned, a premature baby in an incubator is protected from harmful environmental factors. The unpredictability of the world around them is seen as a threat during the critical first few weeks of life.
The world we live in will always be full of uncertainty and unforeseen events which cause hurt and pain, to which none of us is immune. Though these threats exist, we continue to live through them and deal with them as they arise. Yet, we can sometimes forget that at the same time, there can be stuff happening in the spiritual realm that pose an even greater threat to the promise of life.
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” | Ephesians 6:12
When things are taken away from you or your perceived freedom becomes limited, it feels like you’re being held back or being denied of the very thing you desire. What if that thing isn’t right for you? Maybe God sees something that you can’t see yet (or may never see) that He is protecting you from.
In hindsight, and after observing the events that followed me becoming house-bound, I can now recognise the ways God was protecting me. Much of what I complained about while I was in the thick of it, turned out to be blessings in disguise. I believe I don’t even know the half of it!
“But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.” | 2 Thessalonians 3:3
3. God is setting the right atmosphere to prepare you
Premature babies don’t have the body fat or skin integrity required to maintain a normal body temperature, which is crucial to the heart, nervous system and other organs functioning properly. So, they need a little help from the temperature in the atmosphere around them.
In the same way, there may be times when God is birthing something new in you that is so fragile it requires you to remain in the right spiritual atmosphere for a period of time for your spiritual “vital organs” to be stable before you introduce it to the world.
What can influence the spiritual atmosphere around you? To name a few: the people close to you, the things you say (Proverbs 18:21), what you watch and listen to, and the environments you walk in to.
You may find that in an incubator season, you’re prevented from seeing certain people or experience specific people walk out of your life. Maybe it’s for a reason. Maybe God is giving you the space to cultivate the right spiritual atmosphere to lead you into your next season. Whatever the reason, give it to God and get His opinion on the matter.
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. | Romans 12:2
Have you been in an incubator season? What did it look like? What did you learn from it? Share by leaving a comment or contact me!