The story about Alma the Younger was then brought up.
The Book of Mormon tells us how the prayers of a father helped a rebellious son return to the ways of the Lord. Alma the Younger had fallen away from the teachings of his righteous father, Alma, and had gone about seeking to destroy the Church. The father prayed with faith for his son. Alma the Younger was visited by an angel and repented of his evil way of living. He became a great leader of the Church. (See Mosiah 27:8–32.)As we read this, I thought about my uncle who was excommunicated from the church, and then took X amount of years (decades) to come back. And I thought very specifically about my brother who has been struggling since he was 14 with all sorts of problems. And I wondered, How old was Alma the Younger?
Whenever I've read the story about Alma Jr., I always thought of him as a young man. Out and about pranking people... like the rebellious teenager that is being bad just to be bad and tries to get everyone else to laugh at his shenanigans. But he is called Alma the Younger because he is the son of Alma the Elder. So that doesn't mean that he was young, just that he was younger than his father. Obviously.
So my perspective has changed. Perhaps Alma the Elder had been fasting and praying not for just a couple of weeks or months as he saw his son go about and try to draw people away from the Church of Christ, causing problems and making poor decisions. He could have been praying for years. And years. And maybe more years than any parent should have to pray for their wayward children.
I bet Alma the Elder got really frustrated with his son. I bet there were times when he didn't think that he'd ever see the day that his rebellious son would ever get his act together. And I bet he wondered what he did as a parent to make his son behave that certain way.
But you know what? I bet with all that time that Alma the Younger spent fighting against the church and against God, I think he brought a different perspective to the table once he finally realized what he was fighting against.
After all of that praying and fasting, Alma finally saw the light. He repented. And he became a really great man and leader of the church. He could have been fairly old by then. We don't really know. At least I don't, because I'm not much of a scriptorian, and I've never been told otherwise.
And I think, it gave me just a little bit more hope for my brother. Because, even at 21, he has his whole life ahead of him and can get his act together eventually. I think I do have faith that even if he doesn't fully make his way back to church, he can turn his life around and see the benefit of living a fully healthy and productive life. And I know that it will take many more prayers and fasting, but along with that, patience, and faith in the Lord and in him.