The structure of the book corresponds with and reflects its theological complexity. The peripheral chapters of the book (one and five) focus on procuring an admission of guilt, on human acknowledgement of culpability. Chapter one (verse 22) concludes with the admission that these events have occurred “because of all of my sins,” while chapter five (verse 16) proclaims climactically, “Woe to us for we have sinned!”

On the other hand, chapters two and four contain primarily accusation and anger, protests against God who lobs His punitive actions indiscriminately, even against innocent children. These chapters contain little reassuring admission of widespread guilt; at best, the chapter acknowledge the responsibility of its leaders. These chapters depict the outrage and incomprehension of humans who contend with God in their suffering. Thus, chapter 2 (verse 21) climactically proclaims: “You murdered on the day of Your anger; You slaughtered, You did not pity!” While chapter 4 does conclude with a slight modicum of acknowledgement of human sinfulness (Eikha 2:22: [If] your sins [would] cease, daughter of Zion, your exile would not continue!”), its general tenor reflects the panic and despair of chapter 4 (verses 18-19): “Our end is nigh! Our days are over! Our end has arrived. Our pursuers were swifter than the eagles of the heavens.” (The eagles of the heavens recall God’s promise of redemption in Devarim 32:11, thereby alluding to God’s elusive deliverance of His people during this catastrophe). Indeed, if the peripheral chapters of the book project some measure of comprehension, the inner layer reflects an ongoing bewilderment, horror, and despondency.

The central chapter of this book (chapter three) is its heart, illustrating the core of the human attempt to reconcile one’s relationship with God within the swirl of conflicting emotions and experiences. At the center of chapter three, the suffering person seeks and finds hope in God.