Chapter 42 of Genesis is illuminating in what it tells us about how people in Joseph’s day perceived God. In verse 25, it says, "Joseph gave orders to fill [his brothers'] bags with grain, to put each man’s silver back in his sack, and to give them provisions for the journey." So, Joseph basically gave his brothers grain for free by putting their payments back in their sacks.
Of course, when the brothers discovered this, they were afraid. Old Testament shoplifting! If someone thought they were trying to steal grain from Egypt, the world’s superpower, they were going to be in big trouble.
So, since we know that Joseph was the one who arranged that little scenario, it’s interesting to note what the brothers say in verse 28: "Their hearts sank and they turned to each other trembling and said, 'What is this that God has done to us?'"
It’s always God’s fault, isn’t it? Have you ever noticed that in the Bible? (Especially in the Old Testament!) If there’s anything good going on, it’s because God caused it. And if there’s anything bad going on, it’s because God caused it. And if anybody’s winning a war, it’s because God was with them. And if anybody’s losing a war, it’s because God wasn’t with them. God gets blamed for everything.
And the thing is, God takes the blame for everything. He is more than willing to begin with us wherever we are willing to begin. And if our knowledge of God is such that we think He causes everything — good or bad — in our lives directly, then that’s where He’ll start. And if our knowledge of God is such that we think He is totally "hands off" when it comes to this life and can’t lift a finger in any intervening capacity, then that’s where He’ll start.
The truth is, often it's not as black or white as we would like it to be. The brothers thought God was "doing something" to them... and He was! He was in the process of saving them all from starvation! But I'm not quite sure that's how they interpreted the predicament they were in at that moment. Either way, I don't think it really matters to God.
Apparently, God has decided that His shoulders are big enough to carry the blame — even for things He may not have done. (In this case, we know it's something Joseph did!) But we can't be too hard on them, because we still have a tendency to do this today, don’t we? Ever heard the phrase Act of God? This generally refers to floods, tornadoes, earthquakes, tsunamis, fires, hurricanes, and anything else we don’t have control over.
How much or how little God is involved in the events of our lives is something that I believe we continue to discover more about throughout the course of our lives. Regardless, God is willing to take all the blame we can heap on Him as He continues to work for our salvation.