Unforgotten {DWITW 365}

 “For the Lord your God has blessed you in all the work of your hands. He knows your going through this great wilderness. These forty years the Lord your God has been with you. You have lacked nothing.”
— Deuteronomy 2:7

Forty years. I am dumbfounded by that number. Forty years of wilderness. Forty years of not knowing when it would end. Forty years not knowing if what was promised would come to fruition. Forty years is a long time. I mean, if I can be frank, forty minutes can feel like an eternity at times. 

Living in a world that is fast paced and social media driven, we are not a generation who appreciates, or even understands, patience the way that we should. Instant gratification, confusing want with need, and praying when it’s only the most dire of situations and not because it is our privilege, these all seem to be too commonplace in our culture. Maybe you’re not guilty of those things, but we’re all friends here, right? So, I’m going to propose an honesty hour here...or maybe just forty minutes, to save us some time.

“And you shall remember the whole way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness...He humbled you by letting you go hungry; then He gave you manna to eat...Your clothing did not wear out, and your feet did not swell these 40 years.”

- Deuteronomy 8: 2,3-4

I confuse want with need every single day. And I have lived through seasons where prayer looked more like pleading in that eleventh hour, and less like an ongoing dialogue between a girl and her Papa. And often, in the midst of those seasons, the lack of conversation and the deep-bellied grief over not getting something I wanted, was because I was confusing God for a genie who gives us what we always want rather than understanding Him as an all-knowing Savior who provides for us what we need.

He takes care of our needs, but oftentimes my prayers have looked like, Father God, I want more money for fun. I want to buy a new couch. I want to be able to save more. I don’t want to have to decide what “taxable items” are necessary this week.

This list could go on and on, as I am sure yours could too. These are things I want, but I have allowed myself to believe they’re what I need. As I read through Deuteronomy chapter 8, I hear the faint whisperings from my Papa who never leaves: Sweet girl, do you have a couch? Is there food in your fridge? Are your bills paid? Do you have trash bags? Can you take a couple rolls of toilet paper from your momma next time you’re at her house? The clear to answer to these whispers is yes. He has provided just what I need, in my time of need. And so, my litany of requests seems to grow faint as His voice grows stronger in my head.


I remember the first time I was confronted with poverty that broke me from the inside out. It was my second trip to India, and my first time walking through an area slum with which Back2Back Ministries partners. Piles of trash lined the corridors of homes. Makeshift doors of metal were held up with rope or wiring. Collections of coconut shells were lined up and drying out in the heat of the sun. There were flies everywhere and barefooted babies running freely.

I remember not being able to decide whether I should choke from grief or laugh at the joy still found in the circumstances -- circumstances with which I will never be able to empathize. That day something shook loose in me. A continual reminder that, when complaining fights to leave my lips, I am not without. I am not in need. The list of things I take for granted is long and unforgivable. But God.

I always tell people it’s difficult to come back from India, or from any developing country because you stop being confronted with what so much of the world lacks. When I am in Ohio, sitting in my home with heat or air conditioning, with easy access to grocery stores to fulfill my needs, and driving a car that will not break down or fail me, I tend to lose sight of the streets of that slum. I tend to forget how I felt holding hands with the little girl who showed me her home. I need to remember “home” isn’t always four walls and a door. I forget. And I don’t want to be an ungrateful American millennial who believes she’s got it really bad, when in actuality, she’s never really been found in need.

Their God hasn’t forgotten about them, just as He never forgets about me.

I think about the little girls in that slum village weekly. Their hair wild and unkempt in the most stunning of ways, their dresses vibrant and cheerful, their little anklets with the bells that never stop ringing, because they never stop moving. They exhibited a joy founded in purity. Their homes may not look like mine, but they do have a place to sleep and eat with their families. Their parent’s jobs may not be what an American child grows up thinking about, but they are doing the best with what they have. Their God hasn’t forgotten about them, just as He never forgets about me.

And then I consider those Israelites in Deuteronomy. The ones I’d love to believe I’m so much better than. Forty years in the wilderness, with a whole lot of questions and doubts. I imagine myself scoffing at them and them raising their eyebrows back my way saying: “Oh, sure, girl. Because you rest in peace and blind trust every day, right?”

Then I realize I am the Israelite eating manna, and still asking for things I do not need right now. And God is still providing, but asking softly – “Do you really not have what you need, little one?” I am the girl who will always question, always push in seasons of want, feeling like I’ve been forgotten or overlooked, and thankfully Jesus is still my love who gently reminds me, “Your God has been with you. You have lacked nothing.”


 Steph Duff wants to live in a world where every human, whether small or regular-sized, learns to use their voice and is seen and known. When she's not traveling and story telling with Back2Back Ministries, you'll likely find her drinking excessive cups of coffee, with her nose in a book, or daydreaming about India. Her favorite scripture is Habakkuk 1:5, and she prays for a world in which Jesus is the name on every lip. Learn a little more about her love for semi-colons, what stirs her blood, and the yearnings of her heart over at www.stephaniduff.wordpress.com.