Jesus said, “In this world you will have tribulation ...” (John 16:33). Most of us, though, have positive expectations for the future. But what if life is not as we had hoped it would be? How do we manage the unexpected, and the not-so-desirable turn of events?

We cannot know the future, but we certainly know this — we will have unforeseen difficulties that take us by surprise. This happens to everyone. While some appear to live a fairly trouble-free life, we cannot know what may be happening in their lives.

Ludwig Van Beethoven was born in 1770 in Bonn, Germany and died in 1827 in Vienna, Austria. He was one of the most gifted composers in history. He composed nine symphonies, six overtures, thirty-two piano sonatas, nineteen sonatas for strings, seven concertos, one opera, and numerous other works.

It was 1802. He was 32 years old, and miserable. Why? He was losing his hearing. He had tried all the remedies, but it seemed inevitable, and he eventually became totally deaf. He wrote to his brothers, “What a humiliation for me when someone standing next to me heard a flute in the distance and I heard nothing. . . Such incidents drove me almost to despair. A little more of that and I would have ended my life.”

Had Beethoven’s difficulties overcome his passion, the world may have never known the extent of his musical genius.

But what about ordinary people? We may not consider ourselves so gifted, with some unique genius to give the world. When we face challenges, we may have no special passion from which to draw strength. How can we overcome despair?

Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners (1 Timothy 1:15). What Christians do have is the knowledge of the gospel. Therein is the Christian’s gift to the world (cf. Romans 1:16). In this he has a purpose and strength for living. He has knowledge of the double-cure, greater than a cure for diseases and more consequential than all the medical research of the day.

We do have a strength for living that counter-balances all our unforeseen challenges and disappointments, if we have obeyed the gospel and we are living with sincerity and diligence, with heaven as our primary objective.

“In this world ye shall have tribulations, but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).