Photo after the earthquake

What is left after the earthquake…

"Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away"

Matthew 24:35

The last days have been shocking for all Albanians, both for those living in the motherland and those being abroad. Many people lost their lives, many were injured and others lost their homes or belongings. Messages continue to be shared. Valuable lessons remain in our hearts while some are simply ignored. Nevertheless, some of these lessons will be for a long time, even a simple image can refresh memories.

The photo you see above is hanging on the wall of the “Assembly of God” church in Tirana. Unfortunately, the church suffered noticeable damages as well. Cracks on the walls, fallen plaster pieces, and a lot of damages should be repaired. It often happens that we get so much used to the images in the frames, that after a while, the message itself no longer impresses us. Now we only see the cracks on the wall and we only worry about fixing it forgetting to read the valuable message written in it.

What I am impressed with, is not at all a superstition. When I noticed that the frame not fallen,  nor torn down by the plaster that had collapsed around it, I reread the  verse from Matthew 24:35 with another perspective: “Heaven and the earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” We often forget the Word of God which resists all tremors and we only care about the cracks on the walls - those cracks can be easily covered with a new plaster and paint. We forget the truth that transcends any dimension and keep worrying about the transient and temporary.

We have witnessed many changes and we went through many impressive years during the recent decades in Albania: 1985, 1990, 1991, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2019… Each year was full of events that are milestones to our country’s journey. These events have left their mark on this land. This earthquake will also leave its traces on this soil, and we should reflect upon this terrible experience and consider each piece of lesson it teaches us.

The shakes are still happening and may continue for some time, but mercifully they are not that powerful anymore. Perhaps the time has come for us to think how to live, work, rest and worship when around us we keep seeing ruins of earthquake and keep feeling the pain of people for long time. Let us not seek “rest on laurels”, nor pursue in vain a comfort which no place on earth can offer us. Perhaps it is time to learn how to resist by truly handing over to God everything in our lives and not trying to escape the trouble. Perhaps we should remind ourselves of Jesus' exhortation: "Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in me." John 14:1

Blessed is he who learns how to stand in spite of them and to come out stronger, holding on to what does not pass: to the Living Word… surrendering daily to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

God bless you,
Skerdi Hoxha