During World War II, the United States government opened a new agency called the “Office of Price Administration” or OPA. Their job was to ration food and other commodities to avoid runaway inflation and price-jacking during the war. Each family was given a ration book with ration stamps for various goods. Stores would mark items with a price as well as a ration stamp requirement. When small change was required for stamps from ration books the cashier would use OPA token like the ones shown above.
Now fast forward about sixty years… A few months after my oldest daughter was born we invited family and friends to her blessing at the church and then we had a small get-together at the playground outside our apartment. At one point my cousin Mallory and I needed to get something from inside. As we walked up to the door she said, “Because I have been given much.” I responded in my typically eloquent way by saying, “Huh?” She pointed to the number on our apartment door and explained that 219 was the page number for that hymn in our hymn book.
I am ashamed to admit that the first thought that crossed my mind was something along these lines: Here I am living in a tiny cinder block apartment with a car that barely runs. I’m in graduate school and we have absolutely no money. In fact, I volunteer for research experiments at the hospital where they apply electric shocks to my fingertips just so I can make a few extra bucks to try to survive. I skip meals because we can’t afford the food. I’m trying to raise a brand new baby (who won’t sleep), TA classes and do my PhD research all while trying to do well in my graduate courses because if I drop below a B average I’ll be kicked out of school. I’m utterly exhausted physically, mentally and emotionally and you’re telling me that I have been given much?!
I felt like a man with nothing but a couple of OPA tokens in his pocket who has just been told he should be grateful he is so wealthy. But as soon as those thoughts flashed through my mind I immediately felt guilty. Suddenly I realized all of the things I had been given: an incredibly amazing wife, a beautiful healthy daughter, a chance at an education, a place to live, a knowledge of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The list just kept going on and on.
I realized at that point that I needed to stop worrying about what I didn’t have and start focusing on what I did have. Whenever times get rough and I begin to complain I try to stop and remember the lesson I learned standing in front of apartment #219.