Cheng’s embrace of the truth also allowed her to envision that justice would eventually prevail, and that good could come out of this evil. In this, Cheng was fortified, of course, by her Christian faith. Alone among the world’s great religions, Christianity gives value and meaning to evil and suffering. British novelist Dorothy Sayers captured the essence of this. Christianity, she wrote “affirms . . . that perfection is attained through the active and positive effort to wrench a real good out of a real evil.” This is the essence of what Christians call redemption, and it underscores another truth: We have to understand the evil in ourselves before we can truly embrace the good in life.
In 1973, Cheng was finally released and later immigrated to
Cheng’s life perfectly illustrates the fact that the good life is not conferred by wealth or possessions. Just as important, it cannot be denied even in the midst of horrific adversity. In fact, as I discovered in my life, we often find true meaning and purpose in deprivation, when all the distractions of modern life are stripped away.
The good life, you see, is realized in our ability to hold fast to the truth—and the human dignity that rests upon it.
Nien Cheng, Life and Death in Shanghai (Penguin, 1988).
Nien Cheng, “China Devours Its Children,” National Review,
Dorothy Sayers, Creed or Chaos? (Sophia Institute Press, 1999 reissue).
C. S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain (HarperSanFrancisco, 2001 edition).
Charles Colson and Nancy Pearcey, The Problem of Evil (Tyndale, 1999).