Mormon is only 15 years old (in his 16th year) when he is chosen to lead his people to battle again because he “was large in stature.” (1) The next year (he is 16 now), the Lamanites comes against them so mighty that they Nephites are frightened and flee before them. They hole up in Angola and prepare to defend the city, but the Lamanites drive them out. They’re also driven out of the land of David and begin gathering as fast as possible in one body in the land of Joshua. But the land is full of robbers and Lamanites “and notwithstanding the great destruction which hung over my people, they did not repent of their evil doings.” (8) He gives a view of the state of their nation.
…therefore there was blood and carnage spread throughout all the face of the land, both on the part of the Nephites and also on the part of the Lamanites; and it was one complete revolution throughout all the face of the land.”Mormon 2:8
The Lamanite king is Aaron. He sends 44,000 against Mormon’s 42,000 in 330 AD. Mormon is 19 years old. The Nephites beat them. They begin to sorrow because of the curse upon the land, where they can’t keep anything because of the robbers, murderers, and magics on the land.
Mormon rejoices when he “saw their lamentation and their mourning and their sorrow before the Lord.” (12) He knows how long-suffering God is. He has tasted of the joy of Jesus. He has hope that they can once again become a righteous people and have God’s power with them.
But behold this my joy was vain, for their sorrowing was not unto repentance, because of the goodness of God; but it was rather the sorrowing of the damned, because the Lord would not always suffer them to take happiness in sin.”Mormon 2:13
The Apostle Paul wrote of the difference between godly sorrow and the sorrow of the world.
For though I made you sorry with a letter, I do not repent, though I did repent: for I perceive that the same epistle hath made you sorry, though it were but for a season.
Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing.
For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.
For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter.”2 Corinthians 7:8-11
I love how Paul teaches that godly sorrow (repentance) leads to salvation. It leads us to become more careful in following God and rejecting sin in any form. It clears our hearts of evil desires and bolsters our fear (reverence) of God. Repentance helps us be approved by God, because we clear the bad weeds from our hearts and let Him make us fertile ground.
Godly sorrow inspires change and hope through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Worldly sorrow pulls us down, extinguishes hope, and persuades us to give in to further temptation.
Godly sorrow leads to conversion and a change of heart. It causes us to hate sin and love goodness. It encourages us to stand up and walk in the light of Christ’s love. True repentance is about transformation, not torture or torment. Yet, heartfelt regret and true remorse for disobedience are often painful and very important steps in the sacred process of repentance. But when guilt leads to self-loathing or prevents us from rising up again, it is impeding rather than promoting our repentance.”Dieter F. Uchtdorf, You can Do it Now, General Conference, 2013
Sadly, for Mormon, he discovers that his people are not experiencing godly sorrow, but worldly sorrow.
And they did not come unto Jesus with broken hearts and contrite spirits, but they did curse God, and wish to die. Nevertheless they would struggle with the sword for their lives.”Mormon 2:14
He gives us a dire vision of how hard-hearted his people have become. Mormon sorrows and realizes the “day of grace was passed with them.” (15) He sees thousands of them hewn down in open rebellion against God and their bodies piled like dung upon the earth. It is 344 AD. Mormon is 34 years old now.
When he turns 35, the Nephites begin to flee before the Lamanites. This war has gone on for 20 years. They are chased to the land of Jashon, which is near where Ammaron deposited the plates that Mormon has been keeping since he was commanded. Poor guy.
A continual scene of wickedness and abominations has been before mine eyes ever since I have been sufficient to behold the ways of man.
And wo is me because of their wickedness; for my heart has been filled with sorrow because of their wickedness, all my days; nevertheless, I know that I shall be lifted up at the last day.”Mormon 2:18-19
Even when we are surrounded by wickedness, evil doesn’t have to define us or our goals. We can still be valiant in our testimony of Christ and serve out our days in His work, with hope in our Savior.
His people are driven and hunted by the Lamanites to the land of Shem northward. In 346 AD (he’s 37), the Lamanites come against them with 50,000. The Nephites stand against them with only 30,000. Mormon encourages them to stand and fight boldly for their lives and families.
And it came to pass that we did stand before them with such firmness that they did flee from before us.”Mormon 2:25
That’s a miracle, it seems. But Mormon points out that it wasn’t because God was with them.
Nevertheless the strength of the Lord was not with us; yea, we were left to ourselves, that the Spirit of the Lord did not abide in us; therefore we had become weak like unto our brethren.”Mormon 2:26
Mormon sorrows for the abominations of his people, but they refuse to repent. In 350 AD (he’s 41), they make a treaty with the robbers that the Lamanites can have all the land southward, and the Nephites get the land northward.
The future looks bleak, but Mormon never gives up hope in Christ. He knows that even in these dire circumstances, if his people repented, they would be saved and prospered once more.
A lesson we can learn from Mormon is to never give up hope. The only thing we should give up is sin.
When we make mistakes, when we sin and fall, let us think of what it means to truly repent. It means turning our heart and will to God and giving up sin. True heartfelt repentance brings with it the heavenly assurance that ‘we can do it now….
Falling is what we mortals do. But as long as we are willing to rise up again and continue on the path toward the spiritual goals God has given us, we can learn something from failure and become better and happier as a result.”Dieter F. Uchtdorf, You can Do it Now, General Conference, 2013
Let us be quick to observe lessons in our lives and repent. We will fall at times, but let’s always be quick to get up again, to repent of mistakes, and become our best selves through the enabling power of Christ’s Atonement.
Let us not repeat the dire Nephite history.