Mormon was 73 years old when he gathered his people for their final battle (Mormon 6:5). He had begun leading Nephite armies nearly 60 years earlier, at the age of 15 (Mormon 2:2). He had seen a lifetime of battles, and he knew the likely outcome of this conflict, but he believed that his people’s best chance was to face their enemies as a single, unified group. He had selected an advantageous location: “It was in a land of many waters, rivers, and fountains; and here we had hope to gain advantage over the Lamanites” (Mormon 6:4).
The place he chose to gather his people was the land of Cumorah, which included a large hill, also called Cumorah. Perhaps not coincidentally, this was the same place where an earlier civilization, the Jaredites, had fought their final battle. The Jaredites had called that hill “Ramah.” (See Ether 15:11.)
This is likely not the same hill where Moroni later buried the plates containing the Book of Mormon. (See “Cumorah,” The Encyclopedia of Mormonism.)
Sensing that this might be “the last struggle” of his people, Mormon buried all of the sacred records of his people in the hill (Mormon 6:6). Then, he led his troops—230,000 of them—to battle.
It was a massacre. According to Mormon’s account, at the end of the battle, there were only twenty-four people left. The only reason Mormon survived was because he was badly wounded and left for dead. Some of his people had deserted and joined the other army. A small number had “escaped into the south countries.” But according to Mormon’s son Moroni, those who had escaped were hunted down by their enemies “until they were all destroyed” (Mormon 6:15, Mormon 8:2).
His words of mourning are heartbreaking:
O ye fair sons and daughters, ye fathers and mothers, ye husbands and wives, ye fair ones, how is it that ye could have fallen!
But behold, ye are gone, and my sorrows cannot bring your return.Mormon 6:19-20
After such a horrific loss, what did Mormon do? He finished his record. He wrote words of testimony to the descendants of his enemies, hoping that they would believe in Christ, follow His example, and eventually “dwell in the presence of God in his kingdom” (Mormon 7:7).
Mormon never stopped doing his duty as a disciple of Jesus Christ, in spite of the calamities he experienced and the anguish he felt. As he admonished his son in a letter: “Let us labor diligently; for if we should cease to labor, we should be brought under condemnation; for we have a labor to perform whilst in this tabernacle of clay,” (Moroni 9:6).
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland has given the following counsel:
Faith means trusting God in good times and bad, even if that includes some suffering until we see His arm revealed in our behalf….
My beloved brothers and sisters, Christianity is comforting, but it is often not comfortable. The path to holiness and happiness here and hereafter is a long and sometimes rocky one. It takes time and tenacity to walk it. But, of course, the reward for doing so is monumental.“Waiting on the Lord,” General Conference, October 2020
Today, I will follow Mormon’s example of faithful perseverance. I will pursue worthy goals and will strive to alleviate the suffering of others, but if I encounter failure along the way, I will not give up. I will continue to labor diligently, even as Mormon did in the shadow of Cumorah.