Proverbs is a simple book – through it God offers simple choices for a great life: work hard, be loyal, follow God, live justly. In those simple choices, though, can come pain – what happens when we have chosen God’s way, the way of wisdom, but still go through hard times?
Verse 14 talks about bearing a crushed spirit. The wise understand pain – that is part of life. And in their wisdom they do not give a “simple” answer to pain. It is there, it is part of life. The wisdom comes in accepting it, and talking to God about it. When others are suffering, we don’t tell them they must have been foolish – we accept their pain, and listen as friends – v.24 talks about sticking closer than a brother. v.21 is about how our words can bring death or life – when people are grieving we can give words that bring life. When we are grieving, we need to have friends who will give us words of life.
Choose God – simple. But don’t expect that simple choice to mean life will be without pain. This world is full of sin, full of fools, and so we will be hurt. God is our shield and fortress; He is our Friend. We can go to Him with our pain.