Often, when a young person is headed off to college, or makes some other big transition in life, an older Christian relative or friend will write them a note referencing Jeremiah 29:11
For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you a future and a hope.
I got several such notes when I was in my twenties. They've pretty much dried up the past few years; a sure sign that I've hit middle-age. The implicit point of referencing that Scripture is that God has a wonderful plan for my life, and that if I live for Him, I'll get to enjoy the bliss and purpose for which I was created. I would go so far as to say that this verse is the most well-known and popular verse in all of Jeremiah.
Interestingly, the people who were its first readers probably didn't see Jeremiah 29:11 as good news. They were captives in a strange city (Babylon) far from home, where the people didn't speak their language, keep their moral standards, or believe in their God. In such an alien environment, some Jews decided to assimilate themselves into Babylonian society. Others isolated themselves into a Jewish ghetto of sorts, avoiding any contact with their pagan conquerors. Jeremiah 29 is the letter that the prophet wrote to these exiles, telling them how God wanted to them to live in this foreign city. His words didn't make either the assimilators or the isolationists happy.
Much like those Jews from long ago, we are called to live for God in a city where most don't talk, act, or believe as we do. And we face the same dichotomy: Do we fit in with our neighbors or shun them? These words from Jeremiah are especially applicable to our lives today. This Sunday, we'll focus on Jeremiah 29:4-14.