It goes a little something like this:
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord.God, speaking through the prophet Jeremiah, is comforting Judah, telling God's people that after Babylon takes them into exile, which God will allow because of Judah's disobedience, God will deliver them. God will not forget them. God has a plan for them.
Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
But even though these words were written at a specific time, in a specific situation, to a specific people, lots of folks, including me, take comfort in this verse. God, we reason, has a plan for me, too, a good plan. A plan that we don't always (or ever) understand, but a plan nonetheless.
This verse is a popular one to give out on plaques and paperweights and bookmarks and journals for graduations and confirmations. It's an appropriate verse to give to someone just starting out in adulthood. We recite this verse, implying that even though the young adult doesn't necessarily have a plan, God does. I pray this verse over my boys often, willing it to be true, even though I can't necessarily see the way from here to there.
I recently realized that I've kind of always thought of this verse as a young-person verse, as if God had a plan for more mature adults, in the past, when they were younger, but now that they're 40 or 60 or 80, God's good plan is no longer relevant and true. But what's true for a recent graduate is also true for me, and what's true for me is also true for the new retiree, and what's true for the new retiree is also true for the person near the end of life. God still has a plan. A good plan. For hope. For a future. Whether it is the first day of your life, or the last, or anywhere in between, in each moment, God is working out that good plan for your life.
God has a habit of using the unlikeliest of people to do God's work. And I think that includes the very young and the very old. As long as we have breath, there's work to be done. God has a plan to give you hope and a future, even if you're old, even if you're young, even if you feel useless. God has not forgotten you.