11 And now, when Moroni saw that the city of Nephihah was lost he was exceedingly sorrowful, and began to doubt, because of the wickedness of the people, whether they should not fall into the hands of their brethren.
12 Now this was the case with all his chief captains. They doubted and marveled also because of the wickedness of the people, and this because of the success of the Lamanites over them.
After retaking the cities of Mulek and Gid, taking a large number of Lamanite prisoners, and freeing the Nephite prisoners without a battle, Moroni received a letter from Helaman recounting his success on the other front of the war. Moroni was encouraged and inspired by Helaman’s success. He wrote to the chief judge and then began planning to retake the remaining Nephite cities.
But in the midst of this planning, he encountered a serious setback. The city of Nephihah, which had remained under the control of the Nephites, had been lost. A confluence of factors had led to this defeat. Lamanites fleeing from Helaman’s army had joined forces with the Lamanite army near Nephihah. Also, the reinforcements which Moroni had expected to be sent from the capital city of Zarahemla had not arrived. Many Nephites died in the battle, and the remainder fled and joined Moroni.
As Mormon tells us in the passage above, Moroni was terribly discouraged after this setback, as were all of his chief captains. Just when the Nephites seemed to be gaining the upper hand, they lost another city. The momentum seemed to be turning against them.
But in reality, the momentum was not turning. They were in fact very close to victory. There was a reason the troops hadn’t been sent from Zarahemla: the chief judge was dealing with an insurrection there. Once Moroni learned about this and was able to restore order there, he returned to the battle front and quickly retook the remaining Nephite cities with the assistance of Lehi and Teancum.
In reality, the war was nearly over. But Moroni didn’t know that, and the loss of Nephihah caused him to doubt, temporarily, that the Nephites would be successful. Fortunately, Moroni didn’t give up. He kept fighting. He figured out what was holding them back and addressed it. He kept moving forward until he was successful.
In our most recent general conference, Elder Lynn G. Robbins reminded us that “success isn’t the absence of failure, but going from failure to failure without any loss of enthusiasm” (“Until Seventy Times Seven,” General Conference, April 2018).
Today, I will follow the example of Captain Moroni and keep trying, even when I encounter discouraging failures, and even when I can’t tell how close I am to victory. I will keep trying, in spite of my doubts and fears, until I achieve success.