Most of us will have faced that most delicate situation of meeting a person who is suffering. We tend to go down one of two different avenues—one is to offer well-intentioned advice: often in the form of well-worn cliches that the person will have heard several times before. The other is not to say anything at all: risking the danger of leaving the person under the impression that God has no idea what is going on and is unable to help.
How are we to understand suffering and its place in our lives? Should we try and rationalize it away, trying to come up with a solution that sits as comfortably as possible? Surely we should look to Scripture first? This is what Walter Kaiser does here. Looking at the Old Testament book of Lamentations, Kaiser does not offer any easy solutions, but rather shows us how a sovereign and loving God can work through even the most painful moments.
In the book of Lamentations, more than perhaps anywhere else except for its individualistic expression in the book of Job, we are led into an experience of suffering and communal pain on a scale seldom endured by many individuals or nations. All too frequently the subject of suffering is avoided, or the realities of human pathos and divine involvement are minimized. Lamentations will not yield to any of these cheap 'cures'. Instead of panaceas, it will direct us to the faithfulness and gracious character of God.
—Walter C. Kaiser, Jr.
Dr. Walter C Kaiser Jr. is Colman M. Mockler Distinguished Professor of Old Testament and President Emeritus of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Massachusetts. One of the world's premier biblical scholars, he is a frequent speaker at conferences and has written more than 30 books.