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“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV)

This verse in the book of Jeremiah has long been a favorite of mine. In fact, it’s felt relevant across many life events. Its simple, yet powerful reminder has been a place of solace, perhaps even a way to maintain equilibrium when I’ve felt my world spinning a bit out of control.

In this season of starting fresh and new year intentions, I find great comfort in knowing that God’s plans for me are far greater than the ones I’m diligently attempting. I like to think I’m a planner. Perhaps you feel the same way. Planning and organizing help keep anxiety at bay. It also lends a sense of control when, in fact, there is precious little we control.

My husband and I like to establish five-year plans. We find a five-year plan is a great tool for communication and a foundation for us working towards common goals. Over our marriage some of our five-year plans have included professional growth opportunities, graduate degrees, real estate transactions, choosing to start a family, and fitness goals, amongst other things.

We discussed the plan. We strategized how to enact the plan. We agreed on our action steps. We thought about timelines. We set out to live our plan. But, what happens when life doesn’t go according to plan? Our plan?

RELATED: What is Outside My Control is Still in God’s Control

In mid-October 2015 my husband Jay had been battling bronchitis for weeks. It was a persistent, nagging cough that had transitioned to severe head and neck pain. He was increasingly irritated by not feeling well and no MRI or other imagery had offered a source or possible solution to alleviate his symptoms.

One Friday morning, he woke up feeling particularly strange but shrugged it off and made his way to work. By mid-morning the right side of his face was tingling. His head and neck pain persisted. He called our family doctor and the nurse he spoke with encouraged him to go to the emergency room, immediately.

Jay called me to meet him at the hospital. We got there about the same time and began what I assumed would be a long afternoon in the waiting room. Within minutes of checking in, Jay was called back; his symptoms were of grave concern. The tingling in his face had spread to the entire right side of his body. He was rushed into imaging, and we waited anxiously for a radiologist to read his scans.

I began to make childcare plans (see, that’s me, always planning!). We had a 1- and a 3-year-old at home. I made arrangements for my parents to take care of them while we waited for test results.

Despite my initial calm, my fear was gradually increasing the more I saw the medical staff urgently ordering more tests and constantly checking his neurological status. Within a few hours, the physician on his case confirmed Jay, an otherwise healthy 30-year-old former athlete, had experienced a series of strokes and was being immediately transported to neurological intensive care to see a specialist waiting for us.

You see, being a stroke victim at age 30 was not part of the plan. Neither was the idea that he wouldn’t be an active part of raising our two young kids. This dayOctober 16th, 2015is indelibly imprinted in my memory.

In the days and weeks that followed, there were so many plans that had to be made. So many adjustments. His stay in ICU, bringing him home, and his subsequent recovery. The medicine and rehab. There were so many details. So many times I wanted to scream, this is not in our plan.

RELATED: God Actually Does Give Us More Than We Can Handle

One night after getting both kids to bed, I quietly let the tears roll down my face as I thought about the enormity of it all. I found this verse from Jeremiah, and I took a screenshot of it on my phone. I must have reread it a hundred times as I silently cried and prayed that His plan was in fact to bring us hope and a future.

I reread the verse often in the weeks and months following Jay’s stroke. I thought about it when our village of friends and family jumped in to lend a helping hand as we navigated his post-stroke health. I think about this verse, “For I know the plans I have for you,” anytime we’re making a big decision or something feels ambiguous.

Before when I thought about plans, I thought more transactionally. I thought about things we would do to make things happen. Now, in the years since Jay’s stroke, I’ve thought about this Jeremiah verse differently. I’ve strived to let His plan come into clearer focus. I’m not great at giving up control, ut knowing His plans for me are far greater than any I could devise is soothing.

By God’s mercies, Jay made a remarkable recovery. There are few lingering symptoms; we’ve learned to manage those as best we can. If you didn’t know his history, you would likely see a strong, present father, actively raising two kids. And for that, we are forever grateful it was in His plan to keep planning our life together.

As you think about your plans and intentions for a new year, remember His plan to give you hope and a future holds greater promises than we could ever envision.

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Salem R. Metzger

Salem R. Metzger, PhD is the author of The Smetz Files, her blog that features her simple musings as a small-town mom. A wife and mom to two active kids and the family’s loyal German Shepherd, she is a former educator who enjoys writing and family life in North Carolina. Connect with The Smetz Files on Instagram or Pinterest for Salem’s most updated content.

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