Most people know Turandot for the amazing aria “Nessun Dorma.” [Pauses blogging to watch Pavarotti sing it for the nth time.]
Okay, I’m back. Anyway, not as many people remember Liu’s song late in the opera. Liu, a slave girl, is tortured and beaten for keeping the Prince’s identity secret so he can win the Princess. She sings a beautiful aria with these moving words.
Tanto amore segreto, e inconfessato,
grande così che questi strazi
son dolcezze per me.
Oh, sorry, those are the Italian words. Let’s try again…
So much secret and undeclared love,
so great, that these tortures
are something sweet to me.
Because I offer them
to my lord…
What a beautiful picture of the love that persecuted believers have for Christ.
Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong. — II Cor 12:10
Paul was talking about the thorn in his flesh that had him crying out to the Lord for relief. God’s reply “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness” reminded Paul that his humility, earthly shame and struggles for the gospel glorify God.
There are modern day Pauls in dangerous places that would echo his words. I’m not saying that these persecuted believers in Jesus love their tortures or beatings in some weird masochistic way. But that for the love of God and Jesus Christ they accept them with joy knowing that persecution is promised believers in Jesus. The world hated Him. It will hate us too.
For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake…
…that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death… — Phil 1:29, 3:10
I don’t want to be beaten for the sake of Christ.
But if that is what the Lord has for me in the future, I hope I can too see it as a blessing and a gift of love to the Prince of Peace who gave his life for a worthless slave girl such as I.
Let me suffer torment and agony
as the supreme offering
of my love.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.