The ancient patriarch Joseph foresaw the work of his future namesake, the prophet Joseph Smith:
Thus saith the Lord unto me: A choice seer will I raise up out of the fruit of thy loins; and he shall be esteemed highly among the fruit of thy loins. And unto him will I give commandment that he shall do a work for the fruit of thy loins, his brethren, which shall be of great worth unto them, even to the bringing of them to the knowledge of the covenants which I have made with thy fathers.
And I will give unto him a commandment that he shall do none other work, save the work which I shall command him. And I will make him great in mine eyes; for he shall do my work.2 Nephi 3:7-8
Part of that work was to translate and publish the Book of Mormon, as Joseph Smith learned on September 21, 1823. He was praying for forgiveness of his sins, and also to know his “state and standing” before God. In other words, he wanted to know if God was pleased with him, if God still believed in him, in spite of his failures and shortcomings (Joseph Smith—History 1:29).
In response to that prayer, the angel Moroni visited him and told him that “God had a work for [him] to do” (Joseph Smith—History 1:33). Moroni then described the location of the gold plates containing the text of the Book of Mormon and provided some scriptural context for the importance of the task Joseph was being asked to complete.
This assignment was the answer to Joseph’s question. God expressed confidence in him by giving him something important to do.
Just as God had a work for Joseph Smith to do, He has a work for each of us as well. As Sister Michelle D. Craig has taught, we can receive assignments directly from God:
There are many ways to build the kingdom of God as covenant-making, covenant-keeping disciples of Jesus Christ. As His faithful disciple, you can receive personal inspiration and revelation, consistent with His commandments, that is tailored to you. You have unique missions and roles to perform in life and will be given unique guidance to fulfill them.“Spiritual Capacity,” General Conference, October 2019
Toward the end of Elder Neal A. Maxwell’s life, he took advantage of new opportunities to serve after being diagnosed with leukemia and undergoing treatment:
Neal found himself drawn like a magnet to other cancer patients as well as to those with other afflictions. He and [his wife] Colleen expanded what they called their “cancer network,” which increased the number of phone calls they made almost nightly…. Neal began to drop other afternoon activities in favor of staying close to more people whose sorrows he now understood better than he every could before.Bruce C. Hafen, A Disciple’s Life: The Biography of Neal A. Maxwell, Deseret Book, 2002, p. 459-550
Today, I will strive to better understand my unique missions and roles: the work God has for me to do. I will ask God in prayer to help me know what I can do to serve others, and I will act on the answers I receive.