When Ya'akov appeared before Pharoah, Pharoah apparently was shocked at how old he looked and asked Ya'akov his age (47:7-10). Ya'akov replied that the reason he looks so frail and old is because life had not been easy for him. Chazal tell us that since Ya'akov complained about the difficulty of his life, he was punished and had 33 years taken off his life (he lived 33 years less than Yitzchak), one year for every word in the pasuk. The Da'as Zekeinim m'Ba'alei Tosfos quotes the Midrash: Hashem said in response to Ya'akov's complaints, "Didn't I save you from Eisav? From Lavan? Didn't I deal with Dinah's attackers? And didn't I return Yosef to you? And you complain?!"
I don't understand what Chazal mean. True, Hashem saved Ya'akov from Eisav, from Lavan, he re-united him with Yosef, etc., but the happy ending doesn't mean there wasn't agmas nefesh, pain and suffering along the way. Being saved by Eisav at the end of the day doesn't erase the years spent in hiding from Eisav or the tension of dealing with the threat he posed. The fact the Ya'akov left Lavan's home whole does not mean he had any pleasure in the years he spent under Lavan's roof. The revelation of Yosef does not wipe away the 22 years Ya'akov suffered with the thought that Yosef was dead.
Chazal don't say Ya'akov is being punished for airing his complaints in public. Were that the case, I would have no question -- it would mean aliba d'emes life was lousy, but you don't need to tell others about it. But that's not what the Midrash says -- Hashem's response is that Ya'akov's life was good and he had no reason to complain at all. I'm stumped -- any ideas?
(Thanks to Great UnKnown for pointing out that this is discussed in the Sichos Musar of R' Chaim Shmuelevitz and I just found it discussed in Rav Gifter's sefer as well here.)