28 Yea, and then shall the work commence, with the Father among all nations in preparing the way whereby his people may be gathered home to the land of their inheritance.
29 And they shall go out from all nations; and they shall not go out in haste, nor go by flight, for I will go before them, saith the Father, and I will be their rearward.
(3 Nephi 21:28-29)
In September of 1832, during a time when many members of the Church were returning home from missions, the prophet Joseph Smith received a revelation which spoke about missionary work, temples, and priesthood. Speaking to missionaries, the Lord made the following promise:
And whoso receiveth you, there I will be also, for I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up (D&C 84:88).
In the passage above, the Savior shares a similar promise with the ancient inhabitants of America. After prophesying of a future time when Israel will be gathered, He quotes Isaiah 52:12, in which the Lord promises to protect Israel both from the front and from the back: “I will go before them, saith the Father, and I will be their rearward.”
God invites His children to help in His work, but He does not merely give us assignments and leave us to sink or swim. As Zenos’s allegory of the olive trees testifies, the Lord of the vineyard labors alongside His servants (Jacob 5:72). In fact, as the Savior teaches earlier in the chapter referenced above, by the time we are asked to help, God may have already been working for some time, preparing the way for us to do our work effectively (3 Nephi 21:7).
As President Henry B. Eyring has taught:
One of the ways [God] goes before your face is to prepare the heart of a person He has asked you to serve. He will prepare your heart as well.
You will also find that the Lord puts helpers by your side—on your right, on your left, and all around you. You do not go alone to serve others for Him (“Trust in That Spirit Which Leadeth to Do Good,” General Conference, April 2016).
Today, I will remember that I’m never alone when I’m fulfilling an assignment from God. He will assist me. He will send other people to help me. He may even have been making preparations for my current service opportunities for some time. I will trust that He is both ahead of me and behind me as I strive to do His work.