It’s often said that unemployment and poverty could drive people back to God- but that doesn’t seem to be happening today. Did it ever? In Victorian times, it was mainly the poor (especially in big towns), who left the churches: perhaps feeling that the churches had abandoned them (not to mention also abandoning the teachings of Jesus!!)
So how does “God provide”? The Bible suggests this can happen only if people obey God by working together to create a just society. Jesus said that we would always have the poor with us- certainly true if we persist in creating an unjust economy and society (the fact that he was quoting from Deuteronomy chapter 15 is usually forgotten).
Some say the problem is that immigrants get the jobs- in any society employers will look for the most skilled people from wherever they can find them. Does it not harm the economy, in fact, if they are forced to employ local people who are less skilled?
The root question is whether a free market economy provides jobs for all people or only for some (perhaps the majority), leaving others excluded. By the 1930s it was obvious to most people that this was the case- which is why a policy of the government taking responsibility for creating full employment was adopted in the 1940s (and abandoned in the 1980s, because of the problems it seemed to throw up). Private investment will go where it sees the chance of a profit, so doesn’t solve the problem.
It used to be said that, with modern technology, only a few need to work, because the taxes they would pay could maintain everyone else- but those who are in work resent paying high taxes to maintain the rest (either to do work that is not economically profitable or not to work at all). Hitler’s solution was to build the autobahnen, and then create an army to invade others- might have been acceptable if he’d stopped at the autobahnen!
Since the abolition of the 11-plus, the education system has been geared to passing exams, leaving students unable to compete with wealthy and privileged incompetents. But if school is seen as a “passport” to the available jobs, exam passing with no educational depth is inevitable as the priority.
What we lack is a sense of identity and purpose- which is easier to create in small communities, but much harder in nations (or continents). Ipads and Facebook etc help us communicate with a group of friends, but are less effective in helping us develop the sense of justice and community that are needed to create an inclusive society, where some people are not excluded and then blamed for their own poverty.
“Turning back to God” means re-discovering that sense of community and justice. It does not mean hoping that God will miraculously provide me with a job and a good income.