I feel like God has spent the last six months hammering what, for me, is the hardest lesson of all into my very hard head - humility. Of course we all learn from an early age that being humble is a virtue, but I think it's human nature to give the "turn-the-other-cheek" motto lip service only. Just about so much of life seems to be one big competition. Heck, even church can feel that way. I've spent a LOT of my life trying to be the best and worrying about what other people think about me. In the end it's brought me nothing. The things that are of true value to me aren't those that I earned, but those that I was given by the grace of God. It's hard for a proud person to be brought low - I know that I'm struggling every day. But I keep reminding myself that the rewards are great. In some ways humility is the door that opens to all sorts of other virtues. Humility breeds compassion. I'm not too proud to admit that I have a tendency to look down on people who have less than I do and attempt to emulate those who have more material possessions and financial success. But being brought low helps you to understand that God's not keeping score - handing out material rewards to those who deserve them and punishing those that don't. Humility allows you to say, "I've been there, my friend, and I know how it feels". Humility breeds patience. Once you realize that every material posession your prize so much could be gone within the blink of an eye, temporal things and the race to accumulate them suddenly seems empty and pointless. And, most important, I think, humility breeds grace. Because I've done nothing to deserve the true treasures that I have - they are a gift without strings. And although we can never hope to emulate God's matchless grace we've certainly been instructed to try:
 "But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,  bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.  If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic.  Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.  Do to others as you would have them do to you.
 "If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' love those who love them.  And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' do that.  And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' lend to 'sinners,' expecting to be repaid in full.  But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.  Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
I've finally come to a point in my life where I can mostly thank God for my trials because they are truly, truly shaping me into a better person. I know that I have a long, long way to go but with a little faith and a lot of prayer I know that the physical hardships will pass and that the strength of spirit will persevere.