29 Behold, there come seven years of great plenty throughout all the land of Egypt: 30 And there shall arise after them seven years of famine; and all the plenty shall be forgotten in the land of Egypt; and the famine shall consume the land; 31 And the plenty shall not be known in the land by reason of that famine following; for it shall be very grievous. 32 And for that the dream was doubled unto Pharaoh twice; it is because the thing is established by God, and God will shortly bring it to pass.
Joseph explains the message of the dream in plain terms. Seven years of plenty, immediately followed by seven years of famine. Twice Joseph stresses that the dearth will far surpass the plenty, such that all who are caught within the famine will not even regard the good years any more.
Verse 32 further confirms my theory that the river and the stalk, from which both plenty and famine emerge, are representative of God Himself. I do not believe that every hardship we experience in life is by the hand of God, some tragedies are just the natural result of living in a fallen world. Some trials are authored by the Almighty, though, and the famine is one of these.
It is important to note that God does not only send the famine, though, He also precedes it with years of plenty, by which one could save up and survive the deprivation. That is, they could if they knew to do so, and so it is also important to note that God sent the knowledge beforehand as well. He did not send that knowledge to just any man, either, He sent it to Pharaoh, the single most powerful person in all the country, a man who could really do something about it.
Thus God sends the trial, the solution, and the knowledge. All the tools are there, one has only to pick them up and use them. Of course picking up the tools and using them requires one to have faith that what God has said will be will actually be. They must take Him at His word and trust in His plan. So whatever else God meant to accomplish with this trial, at the very least He was teaching His children in Egypt that they lived by dependence on Him.