Jonathan, we’re honored to have you here on the Praying Through Blog. Would you tell us a little about yourself?
I am from Northern Ireland originally but have lived in Sydney, Australia (where I met my wife, Jackie), and Cambridge, England (where I did a PhD in Hebrew studies). Currently, we live in Philadelphia where I teach at Westminster Theological Seminary. We have four children: Benjamin, Leila, Zachary, and Hannah. I enjoy spending time with my family, watching football (soccer) on the TV with Ben, and chopping wood!
You’re the author of the children’s book, “The Moon is Always Round.” For those who aren’t familiar with it, would you give a brief overview of what the book is about and the target audience?
The book is about how God is good in the difficult circumstances of life when we can’t see it, just like the moon is always round even when we can’t see all of it.
As you know, our ministry serves families journeying through child loss with Biblical Truth and encouragement. Would you take a moment to share the inspiration behind the book and why you wrote it?
I wrote it because of a conversation I had with my son Benjamin after his baby sister was stillborn. On the way home from the hospital, after meeting Leila, Ben and I had a rather profound conversation about why she wasn’t coming home. In the midst of trying to explain what had happened and how it was difficult to see God’s goodness in such a moment, I began to speak about the moon. I had taught Ben a short catechism at nights when he liked to look for the moon out the window.
“What shape is the moon tonight, Ben?” The moon is … and he would say what shape it was.
“What shape is the moon always?” The moon is always round.
“What does that mean?” It means God is always good.
So I reminded him about our little catechism and how on the night his little sister was stillborn it was a bit like one of those nights when you can’t see the whole of the moon, but we know it is always round. Well, same with God. It was hard to see the whole of the goodness of God at that moment but God is always good, even when we can’t see all of it.
How might “The Moon is Always Round” bless and encourage those journeying through child loss?
Hopefully, it will remind them of the goodness of God even in the saddest of times. The death of a child is doubly warped. Although death is an enemy whatever age or stage it visits our loved ones, we sort of expect to see our parents grow old and die—we don’t expect to see how children die young. But, sadly, it happens, and when it does, I think parents grapple with the goodness
of God in a very unique way. So I pray that the book might provide some light in the darkness, as they live by faith not by sight.
As a fellow believer, what words of encouragement would you like to share with those journeying through suffering?
Jesus is the Man of Sorrows, whom every grief has known. We have a Savior who knows what it is to weep in the face of death (at Lazarus’ tomb). Take your tears and grief to him; He will listen, answer, and comfort. And He promises one day to make all things new (Rev. 21).
Where can readers connect with you? Where can they get a copy of your book?
Jonathan Gibson is an ordained minister in the International Presbyterian Church, UK. He presently serves as associate professor of Old Testament at Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia. Jonny is married to Jackie, and he has four children. He is the author of a few books, most recently Be Thou My Vision: A Liturgy for Daily Worship and the Acrostic Theology for Kids series.