“For you will go out with joy And be led forth with peace;
Joy is a great motivator. It gives us strength and energy to "go out" or get started in doing something. However, peace is what will lead us and provide the direction we need to keep going on the right track, where we will have the strength to maintain what we've been called to do.
Just as adrenalin is meant to kick in during those times we need extra strength and focus, yet is not meant to be active all the time, joy is an awesome thing that gets us going, but isn't going to be at a high level "over-the-top" pace all the time.
Jesus received the strength He needed to endure the cross because of "the joy set before Him.1" He kept His eyes on the joy, the vision, on what His sacrifice would accomplish. As a vision or goal for our lives is revealed, it is normally accompanied by joy--an excitement or a glimpse of the "end result" that enables us to see the purpose of what our efforts will produce. Jesus said that the joy of a child's birth causes the woman to forget the difficulties of labor.2 Joy will be there at the beginning, at the end, and at various points on our journey.
Joy is absolutely necessary--we need it! Yet the race we are to run is also one of patient endurance. When our minds are set on the Spirit, it will be life and peace.3 Things like apprehension, irritability, and intolerance come when our minds get off track. We are to be led with peace. Peace will lead us and show us the right direction to go because the Spirit of God bears witness to the truth--to what's right for us.
We get off the track of peace when we try to do things in our strength instead of the Lord's and, thinking we need joy, try and maintain a false energy to keep us going. What we really need in those cases is to follow the peace in our heart, listen to the Holy Spirit, and get back on track. There we will find all the strength we need.
We get off the track of joy when we try to use it to lead us instead of motivating and strengthening us. We end up going in the wrong direction, taking on stuff we shouldn't be, and exhausting ourselves. We press on, thinking we need more joy and strength, when, once again, we need to listen to the Holy Spirit and get back on track.
Yet those who wait for the Lord
Will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary.