52: Jonathan Gibson | Proclaiming God is Good After Infant Loss
Jonathan Gibson, PhD, (Cambridge) is ordained in the International Presbyterian Church, UK, and is Assistant Professor of Old Testament and Hebrew, Westminster Theological Seminary,
Philadelphia, PA, USA.
Previously, he served as Associate Minister at Cambridge Presbyterian Church, England.
Gibson served as coeditor with Mark Earngey of Reformation Worship was contributor to and co-editor with David Gibson of From Heaven He Came and Sought Her.
He has also written
articles that have appeared in Themelios, Journal of Biblical Literature, Tyndale Bulletin, and Obadiah in the NIV Proclamation Bible.
The Moon is Always Round is his first children’s book.
He is married to Jacqueline, and they have four children: Benjamin, Leila, Zachary, and a new baby born January 2020. They make their home in Glenside, PA.
Jonny and I chat about the loss of his daughter Leila, the questions his son asked about his sister, how that led to the writing of “The Moon Is Always Round” and the goodness of God.
4:55 Will you share your faith journey with us? How did you come to know Jesus?
Raised as a missionary kid with Mission Aviation Fellowship in East Africa
“Some people who come from outside Christian homes, when they’re converted it is a bit like a hurricane comes into their life. The Spirit is like the wind, it blows where it pleases. But I think in Christian homes it is still the same Spirit, the same wind that comes in and converts people, but it’s more like a gentle breeze. In my case, it was a gentle breeze that blew into my life and re-generated me. The Spirit of God re-generated me and gave me faith in Christ.”
7:19 Your children’s book The Moon is Always Round came to my attention at the perfect time…Tell us, when and why did you began talking to your son about the moon?
Q: What shape is the moon tonight?
A: Crescent, Gibbous, etc.
Q: What shape is the moon always?
A: The moon is always around.
Q: What does that mean?
A: It means God is always good.
8:31 Eventually your wife became pregnant with your second child, a baby girl. Will you share that journey with us?
“That’s really the tragedy [stillbirth of their daughter, Leila] that came into our life as a sudden surprise… All of a sudden we entered a world of pain and sorrow that we had only ever heard of and imagined, but here we were in the midst of it trying to navigate ourselves through it.”
10:02 I share about how I learned about The Moon Is Always Round and the story of my dear friend Andie and her son Ryker James, who was stillborn October 10, 2019.
12:05 Upon finding out Leila would not be coming home, what were some of the questions your son asked?
“He said, ‘Daddy, will mommy ever grow a baby that wakes up?’ Obviously, the thing that struck him was Leila had never opened her eyes, never made a sound. I said, ‘Ben, I don’t know, but let’s pray that she does.’ He said, ‘Why isn’t Leila coming home with us?’ I said, ‘Because she’s gone to be with Jesus.’ He said, ‘Why has she gone to be with Jesus?’ I said, ‘Because Jesus called her name and she went to Him. We often relate that to the passage in Mark’s gospel where Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me. Do not stop them, for of such is the kingdom of Heaven.’ He said, ‘After she’s been with Jesus for a day in Heaven will she come to us?’ I said, ‘No Ben, when you’re with Jesus you don’t want to go anywhere else.’ He said, ‘Why is that?’ I said, ‘Because He is such a wonderful person.’ He said, ‘Does Leila not like us?’ I said, ‘No, Leila does like us, she just likes Jesus more.’ Then he said, ‘But why isn’t she coming home?’ He was clearly just 3 1/2 years old grappling with this. I said, ‘Ben, to be honest I don’t actually know why she’s not coming home.’ Then I said, ‘Ben, do you remember the catechism I’ve taught you about the moon?’ He said, ‘Yes.’ I said, ‘Well, Ben tonight I think we won’t be able to see the moon at all, but we need to remember that the moon is always round and it’s so sad that Leila is not coming home with us, but we need to remember that God is always good even when you can’t see all of it just like the moon is always round even when you can’t see all of it.’ “
“I needed to be reminded that I can’t see the whole of that moon, but I need to remember it’s always round and I can’t see the whole of God’s goodness in this tragedy, but I need to remember God is always good.”
20:49 Why was it important for you to share your family’s story in a book for children?
“Often Jackie and I would pray, ‘Lord, we know You are good. We know You are always good, but help our unbelief, because right now in the midst of this grief or this infertility it doesn’t feel like You are good.’ “
22:50 The end of the book has some interactive activities families can do while reading. What are some of those activities?
2 lessons for children at the back of the book
“I wanted people to see the goodness of God is ultimately revealed in the person of His Son, the Lord Jesus.”
“I go to Good Friday and I speak about the darkness…Yet in the darkness, when He [Jesus] was forsaken by God, God was still good and He was brining forgiveness for people who put their trust in Christ out of that darkness. Even in the darkness God was good, which is why we call it Good Friday.”
27:14 Besides salvation, what is an area or situation in your life where you have experienced or had to cling to God’s grace (unmerited favor) the most?
Song from Deut. 32: Underneath Are The Everlasting Arms
“It wasn’t so much a case of us holding onto God, because at times we couldn’t. It was more a case where He was holding onto us the whole time. Underneath were the everlasting arms.”
29:24 For your great grandchildren listening to this years from now: is there any wisdom you’d want to pass on to them? What would you want them to know
“God picks us up where we are, not where we ought to be.”
“God is always ready to forgive, always ready to be merciful…”