Lifestyles of the Rich and Frustrated
“The sleep of a laborer is sweet, whether he eats little or much, but the abundance of a rich man permits him no sleep. I have seen a grievous evil under the sun: wealth hoarded to the harm of its owner, or wealth lost through some misfortune, so that when he has a son there is nothing left for him.” Ecclesiastes 5:12-14
In many ways I sympathize with the rich man portrayed by Solomon, even though I am not rich. He has trouble sleeping at night. This is a problem I can understand because whenever I am under pressure or whenever I am worried or whenever I have problems I can’t easily solve I toss and turn all night long. Meanwhile my sweetheart sleeps contentedly next to me, blissfully unaware that I doze off and wake up every 15 minutes.
Over the years I have tried many remedies—taking a hot shower, drinking a glass of milk, counting sheep, praying through my problems, reading a book, and watching TV. I should mention that this doesn’t happen all the time—or even most of the time—but it happens often enough that when I read this passage I didn’t think about someone else. I thought about me.
“The sleep of a laborer is sweet, whether he eats little or much, but the abundance of a rich man permits him no sleep.” Here is the picture of the classic Type A personality. Hard-driving, demanding of himself and everyone around him. A workaholic. Up early. In bed late. Stressed out. Worried about protecting his investments. Doesn’t exercise because it’s a waste of time. Doesn’t eat right because he doesn’t have time. Doesn’t spend much time with the kids because he’s got a business to run. His wife? Which one? His first? His second? His third? Or his mistress? Call 911. The guy is on the A Train heading toward Heart Attack City. He’s living on the edge with a time bomb ticking inside his chest.
And do you know the worst of it? He can’t sleep. He tosses and turns, adjusts the pillows, lies awake staring into space worrying about his investments and whether he can fight off that hostile takeover. This man eats, sleeps and drinks his work. Which is why he doesn’t eat right, sleep right or drink right. He’s a mess, and his marriage is probably a wreck.
Meanwhile, the employee who runs his computer system for him is sleeping just fine. And why not? He doesn’t have the boss’s money; he doesn’t have his problems either. His wife sleeps beside him. She works to help make ends meet. Between them they do just fine. It’s a good life, made better by the fact that they aren’t driven by the fear of losing all that they have. He’s not as rich as his boss, but he’s a much happier man—and he has a better life.
Father of Glory, I pray to discover the true riches that are already mine in Christ Jesus. Amen.