So big questions: Did God cause the famine? Why did he relocate Israel to Egypt knowing what would happen to the people there?
What I know of God and the Bible narrative, he did not cause the drought and famine. It certainly isn’t beyond him, but he isn’t shy of openly declaring such a wide spread catastrophe his own doing. When he does, however, he shares his reasons: This is an act of judgment upon this people for their wickedness. Sometimes he gets specific. Sometimes that’s all he says.
There’s no statement of judgment here. There’s no declaration that this is intentional retribution for evil living.
Therefore, I’m inclined to believe this was a natural phenomenon. Preparing Joseph was an act of mercy. Rather than interrupting the natural order, he gave his people a warning of what was to come and allowed them time to ensure their survival and even profit.
Why did God send Israel to Egypt knowing the course of events that would follow? Because they thrived there. For a long time. Yes, eventually they suffered, but he was with them, and he delivered them. And how he delivered them!
The truth is, we don’t know how they would have fared in Canaan. Remember why Abraham couldn’t move in right away? Because their evil was not yet full. What would life have been like in Canaan as the people there continued to drift further and further into evil? I don’t know. I don’t think I want to know. My point is that perhaps, just perhaps, the suffering Israel experienced as slaves in Egypt was preferable? Pure speculation. I could be way off.
My bigger point is this: we don’t know every factor God takes into account when he lays his plans. The Exodus established Passover. Passover is an image of Christ’s sacrifice; it is his blood that saves us from death. The victory over the Egyptians made a name for Israel among the peoples of the land. We know how it played out. We don’t know how it might have played out. We simply have to trust the master of the mosaic, that this is the best combination of the pieces on the table.
I do not believe that God causes evil or devastation. I believe he can and occasionally does intervene to prevent, correct, or circumvent such events and actions. I believe he can and often does work ahead to prepare us, to provide us with what we need to make it through, sometimes even to thrive in spite of them. I believe he can and always does work through them to our ultimate benefit and his ultimate purpose. I believe it is rarely a path we would choose for ourselves, much less without pain. (I will continue to say this in as many different ways as I can manage. It is the message I believe is most sorely under-served.)