On this day in 1953, Dr. Jonas Salk announced on radio that he had successfully tested a vaccine for polio. The disease, commonly known as “infantile paralysis” because it affected large numbers of children, attacks the central nervous system, crippling its victims. A polio epidemic swept through the United States the year before Salk made his vaccine public knowledge. There were nearly 58,000 new cases reported, resulting in over 3,000 deaths. In that year, Salk also tested the new vaccine on himself, his wife and three children with the killed poliovirus. After extensive testing, the vaccine was declared safe in the spring of 1955, launching a nationwide inoculation program.
Salk became a household name. He made the March 29, 1954 cover of Time Magazine with the title “Polio Fighter Salk.” The unassuming microbiologist further endeared himself to the public when he refused to patent his medical miracle. When asked who owned the vaccine, Salk replied, “The people.” As polio began a worldwide retreat, Salk continued research by establishing the Jonas Salk Institute for Biological Studies in San Diego. He spent his later years trying to find a cure for AIDS. Salk once said, “I feel that the greatest reward for success is the opportunity to do more.”
There is a time for rest in our Christian walk and a time for action. Rest should never exceed endeavor. God gave one day for sabbath but on the other six days he instructed, “you shall labor and do all your work.” Our model is Jesus, who rose early to rest in his Father and invested the remainder of the day in “doing good” (Acts 10:38). If we enjoy record numbers at Vacation Bible School or a successful mission outreach in our city, it is only God saying, “Well done” and opening the door to do greater things in his name.
There is an old saying that it is better to “burn out than rust out.” But if we are doing the work of God, there is no chance of burning out. The thrill of advancing the Kingdom will pour fuel on our fire, and we will only be able to cry, “More!”