Isaiah 40:10 (ESV)
Behold, the Lord God comes with might,
and his arm rules for him;
behold, his reward is with him,
and his recompense before him.
Isaiah tells us that the LORD'S Arm shall rule for Him and that He is coming with reward -- and a similar passage in Revelation declares that the Lord Jesus is coming to reward His saints.
We live this earthly life recognizing that we are “strangers and pilgrims” [Hebrews 11:13] in this world -- but are working now in full expectation of a heavenly future. C.S. Lewis once wrote, "If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world!"
We know we were made for another world, where the treasure we have stored while working here will neither rust nor corrode, nor be stolen. If you're looking for a pat on the back now [not that praises shouldn't be given or received], you've missed the point of ministry.
This reminds me of a story I read once. There was a husband and wife who served many years in the ministry as missionaries in a faraway land. As they returned to the States, the arriving ship was greeted by a brass band. Their initial thought was that this was an arranged greeting to honor them -- but soon discovered that a dignitary was also on the ship. They collected their luggage and booked a cheap motel room. While sitting on the bed, the husband started to cry and said, "We've served God for many years. We've got no money, no house, and when we've returned home, there's not even anyone to meet us!" His wife looked at him and said, "Hon, we're not home yet!"
We're not home yet! Don't believe for a minute that your work in this world is going unseen in Heaven. "For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and the love which ye showed toward his name, in that ye ministered unto the saints, and still do minister." [Hebrews 6:10] Let's be earnestly seeking His praise that when we see Him face to face, He may say to all of us, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant!" A true homecoming...and a true reward!
Dear Lord, help us to continue to serve You knowing that we are not home. Thank You that You have a great reward for us someday in Heaven. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.