I just finished the book of Jeremiah, and honestly it was difficult to read. Besides the "Jeremiah said,'The Lord said "Thus says the Lord . .. . "'', this book is very despairing. Countless of times Jeremiah warns and exclaims and again warns Israel and Judah to repent, and they refuse to. Several times there is a glimmer of hope that they will obey, but at the end of the day, they follow their own advice and God proceeds in punishing them for their outright unfaithfulness. God sends the Babylonians to capture and besiege their city. The books ends with the King of Israel witnessing the murder of his family and then having his eyes bored out. Jeremiah is taken as a captive and continues to wail and weep for God's people to repent. In Jeremiah's next writings (Lamentations) I have begun to read the poetic pain of this prophet of God.
Reading Jeremiah in large chunks, the infamous verse in 29:11 takes on a new meaning than what it means if it stands alone. The previous 28 chapters God is crushing Israel and Judah. He is punishing them for their blatant disobedience, but despite that He gives them hope that He will eventually prosper them (their descendants).
Jeremiah sounds like Job when he curses the day of his birth. This man is in utter despair because of the sins and lack of repentance of his people . . . .
Am I anything like Jeremiah? Do I weep and pray on my knees for the lost? Do I despair at the sight of so much sin and bring that despair to my Lord? Or do I self-righteously think that they are beyond salvation? Do I weep over my own sin?