How would you go about explaining to a 3-year-old that the baby sister he’s been excitedly looking forward to meeting isn’t going to be coming home? That at 39 weeks she’s died in her mother’s womb?
It’s a heart-breaking question to even consider. But it’s one that Westminster Seminary Professor Jonathan Gibson had to face when his daughter Leila was stillborn in March 2016.
When his son Ben asked ‘Why, Daddy?’, Gibson replied ‘I don’t know why. But the moon is always round’. He was referring back to a simple little catechism he had devised for his son a few months before:
Q. Ben, what shape is the moon tonight?
A. The moon is a crescent moon, or a half-moon, or a gibbous moon, or a full moon.
Q. What shape is the moon always?
A. The moon is always round.
Q. What does that mean?
A. God is always good.
Little did his father know how important that catechism would soon become in his son’s young life. It became their way of discussing what had happened to Leila. Today Ben has a picture of the moon above his bed. Five simple words curve below it: ‘The moon is always round’.
That phrase is also the title of a newly-released, beautifully illustrated children’s book, written by Gibson. It tells the story of Leila’s death and what followed from Ben’s perspective, and is simple enough for a two-year old to understand – but profound enough to move an adult to tears.
If you’ve ever wondered if there was a book you could give a family in a similar situation (believers or unbelievers), I can’t think of anything better.
I’m sure it’s a book Gibson never wanted to have to write. But in God’s providence it’s a beautiful, tear-stained gift to the church.
The moon is always round – even when you can’t see all of it. And God is always good – even on days when you can’t see it.
“For the LORD is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations” – Psalm 100:5