“… I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD, “plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. When you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you”. (Jeremiah 29 vs. 11-12) (NRSV)
The verses above wouldn’t have resonated with Jeremiah in the same way that they do when we look at them as our church verse for the year. At least, not during the first half of his time as a prophet. Jeremiah wouldn’t have had the benefit we have of knowing the whole story. God called Jeremiah to the difficult task of being a prophet who would need to speak God’s word of judgement to his people. He would have felt more like a prophet of doom than a prophet of hope.
Yet, we can approach Jeremiah from a different perspective. We can bring this declaration of hope into the context of the entire Jeremiah narratives. Doing that enables us to see Jeremiah’s commitment to Yahweh – yes, he struggled and complained to God, but he didn’t turn away. Jeremiah is a man of principles fixed on his covenant relationship with God – he knows that righteousness and justice are at the foundation of Yahweh’s relationship with his people. Jeremiah was living with hope in the righteousness of Yahweh.