Jeremiah 29:11-13 [AMP]
11 For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome. 12 Then you will call upon Me, and you will come and pray to Me, and I will hear and heed you. 13 Then you will seek Me, inquire for, and require Me[ as a vital necessity] and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.
If you look at some of the history of this verse starting at the beginning of the chapter, verse 1, you will find the Jews had been put in Babylonian Exile. Although the Jews suffered greatly and faced powerful cultural pressures in a foreign land, they maintained their national spirit and religious identity. I believe in verses 11-13, the Lord was encouraging the Jews and showing them that He knows what is going to happen in the final outcome. Nothing catches God by surprise. He wants the best for us and also knows how to position us through circumstances, but He only knows the end.
It does help to hear a Word, and know that God still does not wish evil on us, but cares about our welfare. But verses 12-13 really show the reason possibly for God to allow the Jews to go into exile. God wanted the opportunity to show himself strong, and He knew once he delivered them, their hearts would turn toward him. He wasn't interested in what they could do, but more interested in having their hearts. He created us, and truly wants us to love and serve Him. When we wander away, He always has a plan to bring us back. It may seem that He has forsaken us, but He really just is planning for our reunion! The Lord had no doubt that the Jews would pray, seek Him, and require Him. They had to realize, that without God they could be in oppression forever.
God knows how the human tendency is not to love and serve unless there is a selfish need. Humans in our flesh nature are not capable of loving unconditionally. Our love changes based on the conditions, unless we have learned to allow God to love through us. But God deals with us where we are. If we have to be in a vital place before we seek Him, then that's where He puts us, so He can show Himself true. He is willing to earn our Love to an extent, even though He shouldn't have to, He will. It is a real relationship.