The Adventure of Uncertainty

The Adventure of Uncertainty

Will van der Hart

The most primitive response to fear is escape.

I am scrutinising the safety card again and watching the in-flight attendant point, penguin-like, to the exits that I had already noted on the way in. It’s not that I am afraid of flying; it’s just that safety information is a worrier’s drug and a virtuous one at that. I look on my fellow passenger, already snoozing, with a haughty distain. ‘Don’t you come asking me how to, ‘double wrap and bow’ your life jacket if the need arises,’ I say in my head. But then, with a little envy in my heart, I wonder why I am not asleep? Why does this familiar information feel all too important to me?

Statistically life has never been safer, but our experience of anxiety has never been greater. You would assume that vastly improved healthcare, education, public safety and national security would reduce our propensity towards fear. But worry is at epidemic levels: 7 million anti-anxiety prescriptions were offered in the UK on the NHS last year, and approximately 40 million American adults show symptoms of an anxiety disorder.

The most primitive response to fear is escape, and we continue to do this in spades. Not by physically running away, but by attempting to undo the conundrums in our minds: the work colleague we fear dislikes us, the darkening mole on a shoulder, the sense that we are in the wrong job. Google is the new back door that we can run through, comforted by the shared experiences of others or terrified by the search result that confirms we do have Bubonic Plague.

If anything can be held responsible for the heightening of anxiety in our lives, it is a fundamental shift in our relationship to uncertainty. Whilst information is available on an unprecedented scale, people’s threshold for ‘not knowing’ has fallen considerably.

Consider the art of weather forecasting. One hundred years ago a farmer would lick his finger, hold it in the air and tell you where the wind was coming from. Now, satellite technology can give you an accurate picture of the weather up to 15 days in advance. The availability of this knowledge, coupled by our instinct to mitigate risk, is stealing our ability to rest in uncertainty.

The power of anxiety and the drive to eradicate uncertainty have stolen life’s adventure. This is of course a direct contrast to the promise of Jesus who said, ‘I have come to give you life and life in all its fullness’ (John 10:10). Oprah Winfrey has said, ‘The biggest adventure you can ever take is to live the life of your dreams.’ However, through Mind and Soul’s work in emotional health, we have seen an increasing number of people who are only living their life ‘in their dreams’.

One of the reasons that we love Alpha is that it does not take the uncertainty out of life; it takes life out of uncertainty. The Christian life is not about resolving every uncertainty; it is about really living despite our uncertainty. The Christian life proposes that we can have certainty in the things that are truly important – in our relationship with God, in our value as people and in our eternal future. Everything else is an adventure to be enjoyed together. As the great reformer Martin Luther said, ‘Pray and let God worry.’


Will van der Hart is a Founding director of Mind and Soul a Christian Charity that provides an interface between mental health issues and Christian spirituality. He is co-author of The Pregnancy Book, The Worry Book, The Stuff of Life, and the forthcoming, The Guilt Book.

Follow Will on Twitter @vicarwill

Want to find an Alpha near you

Try Alpha

Find out more about Alpha

Learn more


Xola's Story

Xola's Story

Xola grew up in a township in South Africa, and with lots of other young men he got involved with gangs, drugs and was eventually arrested.

While in prison, Xola began to realise that he could not live the life that he had previous led.  

Find out more about how Xola came to try Alpha. Learn more about Alpha and how to find one near you

I used to think that God was not for me but for other people
Watch >
Emma's Story

Emma's Story

After the death of her beloved sister, Emma was left with a huge emptiness. She began isolating herself from close relationships and the more isolated she became, the more difficult it was to re-engage. One day, her father dared her to try Alpha. She turned around, took a risk and signed up.

Find out what happened to Emma after she tried Alpha. Learn more about Alpha and how to find one near you


Within the space of a day I went from being the youngest child to an only child.
Watch >
Richard's Story

Richard's Story

By the age of 25, Richard realised he was going too far. He was losing control.  

He started coming back to church to follow a girl, but realised he may be in need something more.

Find out what happened to Richard after he tried signed up for Alpha. Learn more about Alpha and how to find one near you


The hardest part for me was just showing up the first night.
Watch >
More than Mutual // Anna and Emmanuel's Story

More than Mutual // Anna and Emmanuel's Story

From exploring London together to a trip down under for a Grandmother’s blessing, Anna and Emmanuel have been more than mutual friends for 16 years.

“Fireworks went off by chance, although I did tell her it was planned.”

With the pipes in Anna’s family words travels fast, along with recommendations to try out the Marriage Course.

Screen Shot 1.png
Every table was looked after… you felt like you were on a date from the moment you walked in.

After experiencing values of speaking out and listening, the Marriage Course has provided them with a new inside lingo.

Listen to their story to find out how trying the Marriage Course led to giving Alpha a go too.

If you would like to attend or run a Marriage Course, click here to find one in your community or local area.