Complains and gratitude are not mutually exclusive. You can grieve and complain to Allah, and yet remain grateful. When Prophet Yaqoob lost his 10year old son Yusuf, he was devastated and he cried so much he lost his eye sight. Yet when Allah narrates us the story, NO WHERE does He mention anything about gratitude. Allah never tells him to be grateful that his other sons are alive. None. In fact, Allah captures his struggle by actually telling us that his grief did in fact affect his health, people around him were uncomfortable with his sorrow so they told him to move on- all things that every single one of us unfortunately have heard or told others.
In this very famous verse Allah actually glorifies the fact that this prophet did complain. He kept telling Allah about his sorrow UNAPOLOGETICALLY. Unlike us humans, Allah did not guilt trip him into being grateful to supress his emotions. In His immense wisdom Allah never tells us to suppress our emotions because He knows it is not healthy.
What is also remarkable is that Allah revealed this story when His messenger (peace be upon him) needed counsel, when he was goung through the most difficult phase of his life. So basically even to his messenger (peace be upon him) Allah did not condemn his grief or ask him to stop complaining and be grateful. Allah gave both these prophets the time and space to grieve, to mourn. Allah acknowledged their sorrow and if any He actually tells us that through their legacies that we can turn to Him too to complain. Complain with unwavering certainty that Allah will change our condition for the better.
Even in this very famous verse of gratitude if you look at the background, Allah revealed it to the Children of Israel after Pharaoh killed their baby boys. Allah through His messenger Moses consoled them and encouraged them to be grateful. But Allah did NOT negate their grief or ask them to stop complaining. That is not a practice of Allah. He gives us the leeway to be grateful and still lament.
Basically what I am trying to convey is that we shouldn’t be ungrateful. We shouldn’t try to negate the value of what we have. But that does not mean that we settle with our miseries. It does not mean we pretend life is a bed of roses when in reality it might be not. There is a reason Allah says in the Quran “and do not forget your share of the world” (28:77)
So relieve yourself of that burden today. That burden where you are “supposed” to be only grateful and not complain. You can do both. You can complain to Allah, complain like nobody’s business, pour out to Him every bitterness that is there. As long as you are not being ungrateful, as long as you are not dismissing the favors He has done to you, you are good. “Remember Me, I will remember you. Be grateful to Me and do not deny Me.”(2:152).
If you are still unsure, try it today. I do this experiment with myself. I was at a very bad situation and I complained to Allah a lot, but the whole time I kept an eye on my attitude. I figured that I did not feel “ingratitude”, I did feel grateful for what I have, but the pain of what I dont have, that sense of inadequacy created from that void was unbearable.
Pain is given to us for a reason, to feel it. Feeling the sense of incompleteness for the things we do not have in life, for our unfulfilled dreams, wishes and desires, its part of our human creation. It is how Allah created us. We cant cloak them up with veils of gratitude and run away from acknowledging those emotions. Gratitude has its own place and so does our want and need for a better life.