Thinking about God's perfect will in contrast to his permissive will, it often seems difficult to distinguish between the two.
First important point, God does whatever He wishes --
Psa 135:6 "The LORD does whatever he wants in heaven or on earth, on the seas or in all the depths of the oceans."
Job 9:12 "Were He to snatch away, who could restrain Him? Who could say to Him, 'What are You doing?'"
Isa 14:24 "The LORD of hosts has sworn saying, "Surely, just as I have intended so it has happened, and just as I have planned so it will stand."
In other words, there will never be a time when God says, "What just happened? I never saw that one coming!"
Second important point, God takes credit for the course of events, bad and good --
Isa 45:7 The One forming light and creating darkness, Causing well-being and creating calamity; I am the LORD who does all these.
Deu 32:39 'See now that I, I am He, And there is no god besides Me; It is I who put to death and give life. I have wounded and it is I who heal, And there is no one who can deliver from My hand.
1Sa 2:6-8 The LORD kills and makes alive; He brings down to Sheol and raises up. The LORD makes poor and rich; He brings low, He also exalts. He raises the poor from the dust, He lifts the needy from the ash heap To make them sit with nobles, And inherit a seat of honor; For the pillars of the earth are the LORD'S, And He set the world on them.
In other words, next time there's a tornado or a hurricane, let's not run out and blame the devil!
Jamie, to address your original point, God didn't want King David to commit adultery with Bathsheba and murder her husband to cover up what he had done. Yet the tremendous evil that David did did not set aside God's plan for Israel or David's life work. "You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good." See Gen. 50:20, which I referenced in my earlier post.
Maybe that's the best way to understand the Confederacy's defeat in the Civil War.
Here's a great book which addresses this topic --