When Rabbi Kushner son Aaron was just three years old, he was diagnosed with a "rapid aging" disease; he died after his fourteenth birthday. Out of this harrowing experience, the author has created a meditation about God, human suffering and life's tragedies. He contends that bad things happen to good people because (1) it sometimes just goes that way; (2) we are given freedom of choice and consequently life is full of injustices; (3) nature is morally blind; and (4) there may be "corners of the universe where God's creative light has not yet penetrated."

In the last chapter, Kushner probes Archibald MacLeish's play J.B.. He concludes that it is the destiny of God's sons and daughters to see that "the ability to forgive and the ability to love are the weapons God has given us to live fully, bravely and meaningfully in this less-than-perfect world."