In Mosiah 21, the Nephites go up to battle against the Lamanites 3 times and are beaten back 3 times. At this time, they did not have the the blessing of the Lord with them (Abinadi has just recently been slain, and Limhi is king. The people are in bondage to the Lamanites at this time). By so going into battle, the Nephites are also breaking an oath which they had just barely made with the Lamanites. I start to think, is it any wonder the Lord was slow to hear their cries? But at the same time, I'm thinking, why isn't the Lord rushing to help them, as they seem to have turned their hearts back to him? Maybe it is because the Nephites need to learn something about keeping oaths? Or maybe the Lord is waiting to see if they really, truly have repented of their ways? I also wonder why it was that Ammon thought himself an "unworthy servant" to baptize the people of Limhi.
In chapter 23, I like verses 21 and 22. It says, "Nevertheless, the Lord seeth fit to chasten his people; yea, he trieth their patience and their faith. Nevertheless -whosoever putteth his trust in him the same shall be lifted up at the last day. Yeah, and thus it was with this people." Remember that chapter 23 is about Alma and those people of King Noah that had fled with him and had been baptized and entered into sacred covenants with the Lord. These people are righteous, they are not wicked. Yet the Lord still allowed for them to come into bondage with the Lamanites (and the wicked priests of King Noah), that He might deliver them in the future. I think also the Lord allowed them to experience trials so that they could learn about themselves and about their relationship with God. How often has God tried our patience and our faith? Do we remain faithful, despite our difficult times, and do we continue to cry unto the Lord, or do we chose to believe that God does not love us any more and try to do things on our own? I like the response of Alma and his people in verse 15 (chapter 24) "And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord." When we continue to trust in the Lord, He will strengthen us, that we, too, may "bear up [our] burdens with ease."