"What the deuce is that?"
"Deus. Deus X. Machina. There's a god in this box, you see. Very useful."
"Must be rather small, though."
"Folds up nicely, that's all."
In some ancient plays, the author sometimes wrote himself into a corner: the problems he had conjured up just wouldn't go away. So he would winch a deity onto the set to tidy everything up. This easy way out still shows up (though in different forms) even these days, and it's one of the reasons some people give for dismissing spec-fic in general: some magic or high-tech special effect will solve everything in the end.
So the backlash says, "No deus ex machina." The idea is for characters to solve their own problems--no divine intervention. This certainly closes the door on cheap and easy endings.
But we're Christians, and we have a God who intervenes--sometimes overtly, sometimes covertly. We cannot--must not--throw out the Deus with the machina. And we don't need to.
After all, if our characters work things out themselves, what need do they have of God? I used to have such moral/agnostic storylines, but I tossed them. God is the most important being there is, so any story that doesn't feature him in some way is trivial.
(Some smart aleck is sure to mention Esther. But while God isn't mentioned specifically, the chain of "coincidences" in the narrative points to his involvement. Also, aside from prayer to an unnamed God, what would be the point of their fasting? The reason God isn't mentioned is that he is always arranging things, even when he seems absent--the theme of Esther.)
I've said that there's no need to toss out the Deus. That's because the problem is the machina. It isn't really God tooling around onstage that's annoying (though "Zap! Problem solved!" is); it's the fact that he's airlifted in at the last moment. If God (or a God-replacement) is there from the start, the awkwardness largely disappears. In Star Wars (Episode IV), the Force appears early, so when it partly resolves the final problem, no one cries foul. Likewise, in The Matrix, Trinity's escape from the cops at the beginning lets us know it's not business as usual.
Don't keep God in a box until the last scene. Let him on the stage from the start.
Tune in again next time for "The Opposite of Magic":
"Is... Is that magic?" Alfred stammered.
Laylah's eyes flashed, but her tone remained gentle. "No. It's the opposite of magic. ...I merely proclaim God's will rather than trying to impose my own. That is why this is the opposite of magic."